Book Review: The One Thing



“What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”  Gary Keller, The One Thing

As a leader, I try to stay laser-focused on the most important thing at all times.  No matter what I’m working on or who I’m working with…the gospel is always The ONE Thing.  In examining my systems and strategies, it is evident to those around me that the gospel is my ONE Thing?  One of my goals this year is to be a better listener..and in turn, a more intentional learner.

Another Christian school principal in the area recommended The ONE Thing by Gary Keller as one of the most impactful books he had read recently.  While this isn’t a Christian book, Keller makes several references about spiritual health that lead me to believe that he might be a Christian.  Either way, the principles of this book are helpful for anyone looking to live a life that really matters…especially if your focus is on eternity.

I highlighted several things while reading and intend to implement several of these ideas as I’m putting my schedule together for the coming school year.  Here are the notes I highlighted…

  • What’s the ONE Think you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?
  • Where I’d had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.
  • Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.
  • Extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous.  What starts out linear becomes geometric.  You do the right thing and then you do the next right ting.  Over time it adds up, and the geometric potential of success is unleashed.
  • “There can only be one most important thing.  Many things may be important, but only one can be the most important.”  Ross Garber
  • Everyone has one person who either means the most to them or was the first to influence, train, or manage them.
  • No one succeeds alone.  No one.
  • “Success demands singleness of purpose.” Vince Lombardi
  • The ONE Thing shows up time and again in the lives of the successful because it’s a fundamental truth.
  • The doors to the world have been flung wide open, and the view that’s available is staggering. Through technology and innovation, opportunities abound and possibilities seem endless.  As inspiring as this can be, it can be equally overwhelming.  The unintended consequence of abundance is that we are bombarded with more information and choices in a day than our ancestors received in a  lifetime.  Harried and hurried, a nagging sense that we attempt too much and accomplish too little haunts our days.
  • The ONE Thing sits at the heart of success and is the starting point for achieving extraordinary results.
  • “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.
  • The majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do.
  • A few ideas gave me most of my results.
  • Go Small.  Don’t focus on being busy; focus on being productive.  Allow what matters most to drive your day.
  • Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.
  • “To do two things at once is to do neither.”  Publilius Syrus
  • It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do; it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.
  • Why would we ever tolerate multitasking when we’re doing our most important work?
  • If you want to get the most out of your day, do your most important work—your ONE Thing—early.
  • A balanced life is a lie.
  • In your effort to attend to all things, everything gets shortchanged and nothing gets its due.
  • Do you think you can cut a deal with God that time stands still for you, holding off on anything important until you’re ready to participate again?
  • “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls.  The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity.  And you’re keeping all of them in the air.  But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball.  If you drop it, it will bounce back.  The other four balls—family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass.  If you drop one of those, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”  James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
  • “We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”  Robert Brault
  • What you build today will either empower or restrict you tomorrow.
  • Answers come from questions, and the quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question.
  • Our purpose sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce.
  • Who we are and where we want to go determine what we do and what we accomplish.
  • A life lived on purpose is the most powerful of all—and the happiest.
  • What’s the ONE Thing I can do right now so I’m on track to achieve my someday goal?
  • Time blocking works on the premise that a calendar records appointments but doesn’t care who those appointments are with.
  • Resting is as important as working.
  • “Efficiency is doing the right thing.  Effectiveness is doing the right thing.”  Peter Drucker
  • To experience extraordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon.
  • The people who achieve extraordinary results don’t achieve them by working more hours.  They achieve them by getting more done in the hours they work.
  • Highly productive people don’t accept the limitations of their natural approach as the final word on their success.  When they hit a ceiling of achievement, they look for new models and systems, better ways to do things to push them through.
  • You have to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things if you want breakthroughs in your life.  As you travel the path of mastery you’ll find yourself continually challenged to do new things.
  • Accountable people achieve results others only dream of.
  • The Four Thieves of Productivity:
    1.  Inability to say “No”
    2.  Fear of Chaos
    3.  Poor Health Habits
    4.  Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals
  • When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you are saying no to.
  • Extraordinary results require you to go small.

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