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The ONE Thing Book Summary

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

The ONE Thing

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Gary Keller with Jay Papasan


The ONE Thing presents a simple yet powerful concept: focusing on one essential task at a time is the key to achieving extraordinary results in any area of life. The book challenges the notion of multitasking and advocates for prioritizing tasks based on their impact and alignment with our goals. It provides practical strategies and tools for identifying your “ONE Thing” and creating a domino effect of success in your personal and professional life.

Table of contents

Open Table of contents

Author & Writing Background

Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur and best-selling author. He co-founded Keller Williams Realty, one of the largest real estate companies in the world. Jay Papasan is the vice president of publishing and executive editor at Keller Williams Realty. Together, they combine their expertise in business, productivity, and personal development to deliver a compelling and actionable guide.

Key Takeaways

The Focusing Question

The core principle of the book revolves around asking yourself: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” This question helps identify the most impactful action that can lead to a domino effect of success.

The Domino Effect

The book emphasizes the concept of the domino effect, where completing one important task sets off a chain reaction of positive outcomes, making subsequent tasks easier or even unnecessary.

The Lies About Success

The ONE Thing debunks common misconceptions about success, such as the myth of multitasking, the belief in balanced life, and the idea that everything matters equally.

The Power of Purpose

The book highlights the importance of aligning your ONE Thing with your life purpose and core values to ensure long-term motivation and fulfillment.

Time Blocking

The authors advocate for the practice of time blocking, dedicating specific blocks of time to focus on your ONE Thing without distractions.

The Path to Great Answers

The book introduces a framework for finding great answers to important questions, starting with asking the right questions and seeking diverse perspectives.

Living a Balanced Life

While the book emphasizes focus, it also acknowledges the importance of balancing different areas of life and taking time for rest and rejuvenation.

The Journey of Mastery

The ONE Thing encourages readers to pursue mastery in their chosen field by dedicating consistent effort and embracing a long-term perspective.

FAQ about The ONE Thing

How do I identify my ONE Thing?

The book provides a framework for identifying your ONE Thing, starting with reflecting on your life goals and values, asking the focusing question, and considering the domino effect of different actions.

Is it realistic to focus on only one thing at a time?

The authors acknowledge that we have multiple responsibilities in life. However, they advocate for prioritizing the most impactful task and focusing on it with dedicated time and effort.

How can I apply the principles of The ONE Thing in my personal life?

The principles of The ONE Thing can be applied to any area of life, from relationships and health to finances and personal development. The key is to identify the most important area for improvement and focus on your ONE Thing in that domain.

What if my ONE Thing changes over time?

The authors acknowledge that your ONE Thing may evolve as your goals and priorities shift. It’s important to reassess and adjust your focus periodically.

The ONE Thing Quotes

  • “Success is actually a short race—a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.”
  • “Multitasking is a lie.”
  • “The ONE Thing shows up time and again in the lives of the successful because it’s a fundamental truth.”