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 – 1 Kings 22:34

1 Kings 22:34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.”

Daily D – 1 Kings 21:25-26

1 Kings 21:25, 26 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.)

Daily D – 1 Kings 19:9

1 Kings 19:9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Daily D – Matthew 5:13-16

Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Daily D – 2 Chronicles 15:1-2

2 Chronicles 15:1, 2 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”