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 – Jeremiah 18:1-4 | Philippians 1:4-6

Jeremiah 18:1-4 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Philippians 1:4-6 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Daily D – Jeremiah 17:7-8

Jeremiah 17:7, 8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Daily D – Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Daily D – 2 Chronicles 35:25

2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. (NIV)

Daily D – Nahum 1:7

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