The ONE Thing by Gary Keller [Summary]

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

The ONE Thing introduces a counterintuitive philosophy about succeeding in life – going small and focusing one doing only ONE thing. Gary Keller explains in great detail why you should shorten your to-do list. Actually, to get rid of your to-do list and make it do-only-one-thing list. Along with that, the book will force you to answer some no so common questions which will potentially help you find what’s most important for you in your life.

The Core Idea:

Contrary to what we think, we don’t need to involve ourselves with thousands of things to achieve the success we’re aiming for. We only need to do one thing. So, your first task in life should be to find that one thing, which when you repeatedly do, every-single-day, will help you achieve your goal(s) in life.


  • Don’t do anything until you know what’s your one thing in life.
  • Ignore everything else and focus all of your efforts on the one thing that is vital for your success.
  • Everything good in life happens over a long period of time.

5 Key Lessons from The ONE Thing:

Lesson #1: Go Small

“Going small” is a technique that will teach you to ignore all the things you could do and do only what you should do. Sounds confusing? Let me rephrase:

We all have the same number of hours in a day, right? But why do some people seem to get so much more done than others? Because they go small. They ignore the “need to do” and the “have to do” and execute only on the thing that is vital for their success – their one thing.

For instance, if you want to write a book, you can do all sort of things to prepare for your future book launch: Think about the cover; Which publisher to pick; How many pages to write; Whether or not to include pictures and all sort of other insignificant, at that point, details. Even though these things will be required at a certain stage, doing them now won’t help you publish a book, only writing will. So, by recognizing that not all things matter equally, you need to stop for a moment and find out what matters most for you – in this example it will be writing.

In every endeavor, there is always only one task which is extremely important for the success of the whole project. Focusing your time and energy on this sole task will help you move forward faster. Going small and working on your one thing works because it has only one purpose – to help you complete your project.

So, it all boils down to this: Go small. Don’t try to do everything. Find the most important task at the moment and focus all of your time and energy there.

Lesson #2: Good Things Happen Over Time

The aftermath of doing the most important thing repeatedly over time is a pure success. The keyword here is over time.

Kind of a bummer. I know. After all, we live in times where immediate results are put on a pedestal.

Your order gets delayed with an hour and you bombard the delivery firm with negative reviews and threatening tweets. But it is what it is. If you want to achieve something, you need to be a bit more patient and understand that good things happen over time.

As the author explains in the book, “When you see someone who has a lot of knowledge, they learned it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of skills, they developed them over time. When you see someone who has done a lot, they accomplished it over time. When you see someone who has a lot of money, they earned it over time.”

The best thing you can do is to start today. Now. At this moment. If you start pursuing your dream life today, you will be one step closer tomorrow.

Success happens sequentially. Doing one thing repeatedly over a long period of time.

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