The One Thing Summary

The One Thing: The Surprising Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary results written by Garry Keller & Jay Papasan is an eye-opening book for me and the people who believe life is all about doing more, buying more and more. So, let’s start a book summary of The One Thing.

The One Thing

best quote from the one thing summary

Author realized the reason behind the extraordinary success is narrowing your focus to the one thing. The more we go narrow, the more we get.

Subtraction is the key to a better life. The one thing summary is all about removing unnecessary and going narrow in life.

If you try to chase two rabbits at a time, you will end up nothing.

Success Leaves Clues

If you look at more successful people they have built their success doing the one thing or we can say by achieving mastery or becoming so good at the one thing.

For Ex. Bill Gates learned Programming that changed his life forever. Most of the revenue that Google generates is from “Search”. Steve jobs one thing between 1998 to 2012 changed from iPods to iTunes to iMacs to iPhone, and the result is in front of you.

Success leaves clue and the clue is doing the one thing.

Before accepting the one thing, there are some lies that need to be clarified so that you can adopt the one thing easily.

The Lies- They Mislead and Derail Us

  1. Everything Matters Equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A Disciplined Life
  4. Willpower Is Always on Will-Call
  5. A Balanced Life
  6. Big is Bad

These are the six lies between you and your success. Before going for the one thing you need to put these lies to bed.

1. Everything Matters Equally

The word Equality was used for justice and human rights. In the real-world results, it is never possible. The majority of what you want will come from a minority of what you do. The Pareto or 80/20 principle point out the same.

Go to the extreme of 80/20 rule. Narrow your to-do list to only one thing. It will become your success list.

2. Multitasking

When we switch from one task to another our attention doesn’t follow. The residue of your attention stuck thinking about first task.

According to research, we lost 28% of an average workday to this ineffectiveness. Multitaskers make more mistakes, experience more stress and do poorer decisions.

We can walk and talk, but can’t focus on both. So, don’t divide your focus too thin and yourself too!

3. A Disciplined Life

quote from the one thing

You don’t need your every action to be well disciplined. You just need limited discipline so that you can make a habit. If you form a single habit, it will help you to remain undisciplined in other areas.

Usually, it takes 66 days to form a habit. Once a habit is you can be free in other areas.

4. Will Power is always On Will-Call

Will power is limited. It is like a battery on our cell phone. As the day goes, it comes down. Will power on will is a lie. so, you should always prioritize important tasks when you are most alert.

Willpower is used when you make a decision to focus your attention, suppress the feelings of impulses or try to build new behavior.

Use your willpower for important work before it drains out. This is one of the most important things you can learn from the one thing book summary.

5. A balanced life

People always suggest making a balance between work and life, which is actually not possible. Because to achieve mastery you need to go extreme. You have to give a disproportionate amount of time.

So, the key is counterbalancing. At work, do just important stuff and avoid unnecessary, so that you will enough time for personal life.

In short, work when you are working and play when you are playing.

6. Big is Bad

We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles but by a clear path to lesser goal

Robert Brault

For some reason there is fear that big achievement/success brings mental pressure and stress, it will rob our time with friends and family and health. We limit ourselves when we believe this.

But, this is a lie. What you do is determined by what you think. Big thinking lead by bigger actions open doors of opportunities.

Well, If these are the lies then what the truth is?

The Truth

The truth is “The One Thing“. The key to success is not in all things we do but in the handful of things we do well. So, how do you know what’s your one thing? Start with asking the focusing question.

The Focusing Question

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

This question will set a direction to achieve the big picture ( what do you want to achieve in the next 5 years? ) and narrow your focus to take immediate action ( which one thing I can do now, to achieve my long term goal? ).

The Success Habit

Take little effort to form a small habit and this will lead you to a better life.

The focusing can become your success habit. Ask daily, “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

You can ask this question for every area in your life.

  • For spiritual life… What the one thing I can do to help others?
  • For Physical Health … What the one thing I can do to improve my health.
  • For personal life… What is the one thing I can do to find time for my hobby?

This tiny habit can give remarkable results in the long run.

Extraordinary Results

The path to extraordinary results is through purpose, priority, and productivity. What visible to people is productivity but the productive people are, the more purpose and priority pushing and driving them.

So, your big One Thing is your purpose and your small One Thing is a priority and when you start living with purpose and priority you need to take action which leads to productivity.

Live with Purpose

As mentioned in Man’s Search for Meaning Summary, finding purpose is the most important thing in one’s life. To find purpose ask yourself, what impact you want to create in your life? What drives you to wake up in the morning?

When you live with purpose, self-confidence, happiness, strength to face difficult situations come to you naturally.

Live by Priority

Goal Settings to Now

As mentioned in the now habit summary, set the ultimate goal and bring it in reverse order to the current moment, and do the task which will align with the ultimate goal.

It is like climbing one step at a time to reach the ultimate goal.

Live for Productivity

After setting purpose and priority, take actions to achieve more in less time. To do this, you need to be more productive. Productive time blocking is one way to achieve productivity by removing all the distractions and doing the one thing.

The Three Commitments

  1. Follow the path of Mastery
  2. Move from “E” to “P”
  3. Live with Accountability Cycle

To know more about these three commitments I recommend you to go through the book.

With this, we come to the end of The One Thing Summary, I had learned a lot from this book and I recommend you too read it. Thanks for reading.

Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave is the founder of He is an avid book reader. After reading 100+ book summaries and 80+ books, he realized book summaries can help him choose better books. He writes about interesting book summaries, reading tips, the best books to read, and everything related to books!