A few weeks ago I came across this book called The ONE Thing. I was intrigued by the title itself when I first heard about it. The thing is I usually do my research and read reviews before buying a book. So after I briefly reviewed this book online, I ordered it. This book was a game-changer. Here’s why.
We might have a long list of tasks on our to-do list every day – meet this person, visit that place, complete this work, meeting with the boss, so on and so forth.
We also want to achieve the big goals in life. So we set goals for the week, month, year, 5-years, or 10-years. We end up with a long list of tasks to complete and goals to accomplish.
It is not a bad thing to set goals. And, it is certainly not a bad thing to make a to-do list. But the thing is, if we do so, our focus will be spread across different things and we might end up doing things that are not really necessary.
The idea behind The ONE Thing is to do only the most important thing which is going to make the biggest impact.
Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.
The Domino Effect
Gary Keller, the author of this book, compares the things we do with dominos. A research was conducted in the Netherlands where a domino fall of 4,491,863 dominos unleashed more than 94,000 joules of energy, which is equivalent to 545 pushups.
Here’s another mind-boggling fact – if you line up dominos in such a way that the next domino is 50% larger than the one before, and the first domino is only 2 inches tall, the 18th domino would be the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The 23rd domino would tower over the Eiffel Tower and the 31st domino would loom over Mount Everest by almost 3,000 feet. The 57th one would be equivalent to the distance between the earth and the moon.
We must take the things we do as dominos. We need to find the lead domino and whack away at it until it falls. Success is built sequentially, by doing one thing at a time.
The domino effect is applicable to your work, life, business, and career. Remember the power of the domino effect.
The Six Lies Between You and Success
1. Everything Matters Equally
Whenever we have a lot of things to do, we often feel like we have to complete all of them. Everything feels urgent and important. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often related to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business.
The 80/20 Principle
You might have heard about the 80/20 principle (also known as the Pareto’s Principle). This principle is one of the most important things you need to learn in life. In simple terms, this principle says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. It asserts that a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards. However, depending on the circumstances, it can easily play out as, 90/20, 70/10, or 65/5 as well.
A to-do list becomes a success list when you apply Pareto’s Principle to it.
You need to go small and focus on being productive instead of being busy. Figure out the most important thing and only focus on doing it because doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.
Multitasking is a common thing that people do to achieve more (or at least that’s what they think). But it is a lie. You can not and you will not do either thing effectively if you are doing two things at a time. Even computers have the ability to perform one function at a time. However, they have the ability to switch between tasks very fast. Instead of multitasking, identify what matters most at the moment and give it your undivided attention.
3. A Disciplined Life
Discipline is necessary for everything that we do in our lives. We have always been hearing that a disciplined life leads to a successful life. Gary says that is not necessarily true. You can become successful with less discipline than you think, for one simple reason: success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.
Apparently, it takes 66 days to form a habit. So all we need to do is choose the right habit and bring just enough discipline to establish it.
Those with the right habits do better than others because they are doing the most important thing regularly and as a result, everything else is easier for them.
4. Willpower is Always on Will-Call
This is yet another lie. Willpower is essential but it will not be available at any time. This is because willpower has limited battery life. The more we use it, the less power we have.
So we have got to use the willpower while we have it. Instead of assuring yourself that you have enough willpower whenever you need it (which you clearly won’t have), you have to do use it while it wanes. We have to do the most important task first thing, at the time when we have full willpower. You’ve got to time your tasks and monitor your fuel gauge.
You can recharge your batter of willpower by taking breaks and eating healthy food.
5. A Balanced Life
A balanced life is a lie. Pursuing a balanced life means never pursuing anything at the extremes. But, the magic happens at the extremes. So instead of trying to balance your life, you should counterbalance it.
The idea of counterbalancing is that you never go so far that you can’t find your way back or stay so long that there is nothing waiting for you when you return.
To achieve an extraordinary result you have to select what matters most and give it all the time it needs. This requires getting extremely out of balance in relation to all other work issues.
When you act on your priority, you’ll automatically go out of balance, giving more time to one thing over another.
6. Big is Bad
In order to achieve success, you have to think big. The fact that big is bad is one of the biggest lies. Don’t fear big. Instead, fear mediocrity. Fear waste. Fear the lack of living to the fullest.
Living big will let you experience your true life and work potential.
How to live big? Here’s what you can do – you can double down everywhere in life. For example, if your goal is 10, set it to 20. Set a goal so far above what you want that you’ll be building a plan that practically guarantees your original goal.
Act bold. Study people who have achieved great things that you want to achieve too. Never be afraid to fail. Failure is part of the journey. You either succeed or you learn if you just keep going.
Think big, aim high, act bold.
The Focusing Question
If you ask me, “What’s the one thing that I can take away from this book?”, it is probably this – use the focusing question. This is a simple formula for finding exceptional answers that lead to extraordinary results.
“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
You can use this question in any area of your life – health, relationships, career, spiritual life, personal life, business, finances, so on and so forth.
You probably need to write down this question and paste it where you can see it throughout the day. Start the day by asking, “What’s the ONE Thing I can do today for [whatever you want] such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?”
You can even set your goals using this focus question. Write your goals down and answer the focusing question. It is a proven fact that those who write their goals down are 39.5% more likely to accomplish them. So you write your goals down, prioritize them, and take action by doing the ONE Thing.
A Few Other Things
You need to learn how to say “no”. Remember – when you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to everything else. Learning to say “no” can and will liberate you. It’s how you will find the time for your ONE Thing.
Learn to accept chaos. When you are trying to pursue your ONE Thing, it moves other things to the back burner. When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up. Make peace with it and learn to deal with it.
You need to manage your energy. Don’t sacrifice your health by trying to take on too much. You must prioritize your health by eating well, exercise, and sleep. It’s important to manage your energy so you can do what you must do, achieve what you want to achieve, and live the life you want to live.
At last, make sure that the people around you and your physical surroundings support your goals. Having the right people and the right environment is necessary to achieve success.
I have just highlighted some of the important learnings from the book. It is highly recommended that you grab your own copy of the book because there are a lot more things you will find there that are going to have a big impact on your life if you follow them.