The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, is one of those books that aligns truths you already know but we’re so disconnected that they were unproductive until now. This is one of those books you tell yourself you wish you had read years ago. Dr. Gary McIntosh, Professor of Christian Ministry and Leadership at Talbot School of Theology, recently recommended this book. 

I read the summary of the book in the Blinkist App on a trip to California. This provided an overview of the main ideas. I highlighted this quote: Prioritize your to-dos — they are not all equally important. People often talk about work-life balance or about balancing the different domains of their lives (home, work, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, financial). However, it is easy to begin thinking each of these areas are equally important. This is not true. Not every event on the calendar is equally important. Not every person in your circles of concern is equally important. 

Keller and Papasan tell us, “The implications of this principle are clear: the tasks on your to-do list are not equally important; just a small number of them will make the greatest contribution to your success. Prioritize your tasks to focus on the ones that will achieve the greatest proportion of your results.”

These thoughts would prove maddening if not for the practical help in the remainder of the book. For example, the authors give us what they call “the focusing question”: “What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?” This question drives us toward focusing on what is most important each day, week, month, year, and decade. 

There are great tools in the book on forming new habits and replacing unhealthy ones. A number of excellent resources are available for free at www.the1thing.com. 

I listened to the book on a road trip to and from Houston. I have the Kindle version in my queue to revisit some of the ideas I want to most deeply embed in my mind. The notes from Blinkist and the Kindle version of the book are saved in their respective notebooks in Evernote. A page with the focusing question is found at my desk. 

The bottom line quote from the book is this: “Success comes from focusing on ONE thing, not many things.”

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Daily D – Ezekiel 43:1-5

Ezekiel 43:1-5 He led me to the gate, the one that faces east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice sounded like the roar of a huge torrent, and the earth shone with his glory. The vision I saw was like the one I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and like the ones I had seen by the Chebar Canal. I fell facedown. The glory of the Lord entered the temple by way of the gate that faced east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

Daily D – Ezekiel 37:3

Ezekiel 37:3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I replied, “Lord God, only you know.”

Daily D – Ezekiel 36:26-27

Ezekiel 36:26, 27 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.”

Daily D – Psalm 40:6-8

Psalm 40:6-8
You do not delight in sacrifice and offering;
you open my ears to listen.
You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, “See, I have come;
in the scroll it is written about me.
I delight to do your will, my God,
and your instruction is deep within me.”

Daily D – Psalm 39:4-5

Psalm 39:4, 5
“LORD, make me aware of my end
and the number of my days
so that I will know how short-lived I am.
In fact, you have made my days just inches long,
and my life span is as nothing to you.
Yes, every human being stands as only a vapor.”
Selah