Book Review: The One Thing

July 25, 2017

Posted: August 8, 2016, 12:26pm

I know what you’re thinking: “a book review?” It’s kind of lame to do write a book review for a blog post, but bear with me – it’ll be worth it. I read a lot (my goal about 25 books per year, or 1 every other week) and I’ll be honest: hardly anything I choose to read is a recommendation from someone else. So it’s with great hesitancy that I am willing to recommend a book to anyone. After all, if I wouldn’t take my own advice, why would I wish it on you? So if I’m going to recommend a book, I’m going to make sure you get your money’s worth and that my reputation is still intact after you are done reading it!

The One Thing

I like the productivity or self-help genre. In my view, it’s sort of like the business section applied to your personal life. How can I design my life using successful business principles, or the principles of successful business men and women to increase my output in life and make my actions a greater force for good in the world? I’ve read a few books in this genre now (see Jon Acuff for a great author of many of this genre!) and I’m trying to implement some of the techniques in my life. You and I have to be in charge of my own professional development because if we leave it to someone else – it probably won’t get very far. This is doubly true in an environment like my lab where much of the work is done independently, without the benefit of team interactions. The book I read that I’ll review here is called The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one

I love this Russian proverb: “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” The book begins with a simple concept. Whenever we choose to narrow our focus, and drill down to accomplish just one single then the results are often nothing short of extraordinary. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? At any given time, there can only be one most important thing. Sure, many things can be pretty important but only one thing can be the MOST important. And if only one thing is the most important, then do that until it’s done.

What’s more, the book points to some research that suggests that we lose 28 percent of our day to multitasking ineffectiveness. By trying to do everything at once (or even two things at once) we minimize our productivity and aren’t able to do even one thing as well.

The focusing question

This may change during our setting: we will have one most important thing at work, a different one at home, and maybe a different one for our physical well-being and personal health. The book outlines a really powerful focusing question to help determine what that most important thing is.

“What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Other helpful tips

The book also dives into specifics, even giving recommendations on how important sleep and diet are to personal success. It’s full of small but powerful hidden gems of knowledge, gleaned by the authors’ extensive literature review of productivity hacks. I highly recommend you give it a read! Now I’m done with my One Thing of this morning (writing this post) and I’m off to the next One Thing.


Published on July 25th, 2017

Last updated on August 10th, 2017