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 – Psalm 101:2

Psalm 101:2 ”I will pay attention to the way of integrity.
When will you come to me?
I will live with a heart of integrity in my house.“

Daily D – Psalm 100:3

Psalm 100:3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we are his—
his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Daily D – 1 Kings 19:3-9

1 Kings 19:3-9 Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.

Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, “Get up and eat.” Then he looked, and there at his head was a loaf of bread baked over hot stones, and a jug of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord returned for a second time and touched him. He said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. He entered a cave there and spent the night. Suddenly, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Daily D – 1 Kings 14:12-13

1 Kings 14:12, 13 “As for you, get up and go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He alone out of Jeroboam’s house will be given a proper burial because out of the house of Jeroboam something favorable to the Lord God of Israel was found in him.“

Daily D – 1 Kings 12:6-7

1 Kings 12:6, 7 Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon when he was alive, asking, “How do you advise me to respond to this people?” They replied, “Today if you will be a servant to this people and serve them, and if you respond to them by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever.”