The ONE Thing – Summary

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Author: Gary Keller
Read in July 2020

Five Sentence Summary

What matters most is your ONE Thing. Use the Focusing Question to identify what is most important to you. From there, reverse-engineer what you have to do sequentially to make it real. Block a chunk of time that you protect relentlessly, maximize your productivity therein, and work towards your ONE Thing every day. Then, use the Focusing Question to identify what is most important in every moment and act on it.

My Notes

Success is found in prioritizing everything and then sequentially doing the ONE Thing that is most important.

Not everything is equally important. Some things matter a lot more than others. Thus, success is not achieved by doing more. It is achieved by doing what is most important in a clear sense of priority.

While we can do two things at once, we can’t focus on two things at once. Switching tasks makes us loose time, focus, and effectiveness. Further, it distorts our sense of how long a task will take. Worse, because of the release of dopamine when switching tasks, it can be come addictive and leave us unable to focus for long periods of time.

Success is not a marathon of disciplined action. Success is a result of appropriate habits. Thus, you should marshal all available discipline until the right behavior becomes a habit.

Your willpower decreases throughout the day. As such, do what matters most early in the day when your willpower is highest.

What matters most demands most of our time. Thus, work-life balance is an illusion. Go extremely out of balance in your professional life, while counterbalancing its demands with your personal life so that you feel like you “have a life.”

Think about who you could be if you lived up to your potential. Then, aim at the highest goal you can imagine. On your journey towards this goal you’ll become better than you are which will enable you to realize your goal, once you get there.

Use the Focusing Question “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” to develop a vision for your life and to stay focused in every moment – by adding “right now” at the end. Make this question ambitious and specific. Train yourself to ask this question habitually in all areas of your life.

Connect purpose, priority and productivity.

A purpose provides clarity by giving you measurements of “what is enough” for you to be content. Remember that lasting happiness comes from progressing towards your purpose every day. Absent a purpose don’t lose time dwelling on it. Instead, pick a direction and march down that path. You can always change your mind if you realize it was the wrong path.

After you have identified your purpose or a worthwhile path to take, identify your priorities. Work backwards from your purpose in increments of years, months, weeks and days towards your most important priority today.

Block time for your ONE Thing and defend it viciously. Set yourself up, so that you are most productive while working on your one thing during this time block. Create a space where you won’t be disturbed, have everything you need at hand, have all distractions eliminated and be aware of how your ONE Thing today connects to your ONE Thing someday.

Adopt the mindset of mastery. Commit to becoming your best and continually seek ways to maximize your efficiency while working on your ONE Thing.

Take ownership of everything in your life. No excuses, no blame – only solutions.

Learn to say “no” to everything that could derail your ONE Thing and learn to deal with the chaos that working on your ONE Thing above all else will produce.

Don’t sacrifice your health for success.

Try to recruit the help of the people around you so that they support your goals.

Set up your physical surroundings so that they support your goals.

Above all else avoid one thing: Regrets. Live in a manner that, at the end of your life, provides you with the following security: I have no regrets about the way I lived my life. That’s the only thing that truly matters.

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