Key Insights from “The One Thing” by Gary Keller

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The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results is about focusing on what matters the most in personal and work lives.

Here I’ve written down key insights from the book and followed each with a thought or two of my own.

Extraordinary results are determined by how narrow you can make your focus.

Think of a general practitioner versus a brain surgeon. While the GP is still extremely valuable in helping people deal with skin rashes, migraines and diabetes, the brain surgeon is saving lives.

In marketing, we know that the more you specialize, the more you can charge. If you teach marketing to small businesses, you can charge $. But if you teach marketing to chiropractors who focus on helping car accident victims in the northeast area of the US, then you can charge $$$.

Do fewer things for more effect.

Work on what will make the greatest impact to your customers and your business instead of wasting time on non-optimal endeavors.

For example, if you’re using 10 methods to drive traffic and 2 of those methods are bringing you 80% of your customers, drop the other 8 methods and ramp up the 2. You’ll be spending less time and effort to make more money.

Small dominos can topple much larger dominos; stack them right.

You want to do joint ventures with the million-dollar marketers but they won’t return your phone calls?

Create successful joint ventures with smaller marketers, and then refer to those successes when you approach the bigger marketers. Now they have a reason to listen to you and some of them will say yes.

Success is built sequentially.

There is a process to getting to the big goal, whatever that might be.

Let’s say you want to become a travel blogger and make your money from sponsorships. Read the successful travel blogs. See who is advertising with them. Find all the clues of how these bloggers are creating their success. Start your blog. Write every day even if you’re not traveling at the moment. Practice your writing. Begin establishing relationships with potential advertisers. Talk about their products on your blog and how you use them. Build your audience. Ask these businesses to start sponsoring you financially.

Success is a sequence of overlapping steps. Find people who are already doing what you want to do and then model them.

Not everything deserves equal time.


You’ve got a stack of books to read. Some of them are for pure pleasure. Some of them are about your hobbies. And some of them provide keys to help you build a million-dollar business. Which ones will you spend time pouring over and absorbing?

Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.

You’ve got to do lists, right? Let’s face it: There are things on your to do list that may never get done, which is why you need to prioritize and work on your most important tasks first.

Multitasking is a lie and it does not work.

When it comes to business, I agree with this. When it comes to leisure, I disagree. I like to do jigsaw puzzles and listen to podcasts at the same time. I also like to watch TV and make things with my hands at the same time, too.

But when I’m writing an email to my list, creating a new product or talking to a coaching client, I am never, ever multi-tasking.

It takes 66 days to create a habit.

No. And yes.

It may or may not take that long, depending on the habit and the person.

When you want to create a new habit, I suggest you tag it to another habit you already have. For example, if you want to exercise, do it every day right after you get dressed in the morning. Then getting dressed becomes the trigger to exercising and you’ll have a new habit in just a couple of weeks.

While the time to create a new habit varies from person to person, the time to break a habit is generally one day, because that one day of not doing your habit can easily lead to two days. And three days. And a week. And a lifetime.

Become a person of powerful habits.

Good advice. Choose your habits carefully.

Willpower is limited.

As is decision making power, which is why you want to do your most important stuff early in the day.

Connecting purpose, priority, and productivity determines how high you’ll rise.

What’s your purpose, or the purpose of your business? Have you written down a mission statement yet? Would you like to take a shot at it right now?

Once you’ve got that, you can determine your priorities and then create a plan for optimum productivity.

Happiness happens on the way to fulfillment.

I find I’m happiest when I’ve had a productive day that’s gotten me closer to my goals.

Your results may vary.

Purpose without priority is powerless.

If you have a goal but you never prioritize it and take action towards achieving it, then that goal is just vapor. It isn’t real and may as well not even exist.

Maybe you need a new purpose or a new goal? One that gets your blood fired up?

Resting is as important as working.

I’d say nearly as important because if all you do is rest, then resting becomes irrelevant.

As they say, work hard and play hard, too. Even if your ‘playing’ is spending an evening curled up with a good book.

To experience extra ordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon.

This is lovely and worthy of framing for your office.

You’re the most creative and do your best work in the morning, so take advantage of that.

In the afternoon you can deal with details like your inbox, planning, delegating and so forth.

Personal energy mismanagement is a silent thief of productivity.

Not exercising, staying up late, watching television, playing video games for hours on end, eating poorly, holding grudges… all of these are energy mismanagement.

Your environment must support your goals.

This includes not just tidying up your office, but also associating with people who support you as well as challenge you to be better.

Bottom Line: Figure out what matters most and focus your energies on that.

Rushed for time? CLICK HERE to download
this post as PDF to read at your leisure


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