Click on the play button to hear my review of The One Thing

In This Episode…

In this episode I review the excellent book by Keller and Papasan called “The One Thing – The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Success”.  In the review, I explain:

  • Why I have chosen to review this book.
  • Who the authors are and why I think they are an extremely credible source of productivity information.
  • The essence of the core message explained by the book.
  • How the book is divided into three parts that make complete sense in the way the message is structured.
  • What I like about the book and why I strongly recommend it.

Episode Show Notes

00:22 – Why I have chosen this book.

  • The title sells the book very well.
  • People close to me I admire have recommended it.
  • It is often recommended by gurus of all persuasions.
The One Thing By Gary Keller/Jay Papasan

01:29 – I like to understand the authors’ background to get a sense of the credibility of the source. Gary Keller is a successful real estate entrepreneur and Jay Papasan is a proven writer.

02:58 – In a nutshell here’s what the book is about:

The principle of the One Thing sits at the heart of success and is a starting point for achieving extraordinary results.

Keller/Papasan, The One Thing

03:09 – There are three parts to this book:

  1. The Lies – They Mislead and Derail Us
  2. The Truth – The Simple Path To Productivity
  3. Extraordinary Results – Unlocking The Possibilities Within You

03:53 – In Part 1 the authors break down what they believe are the 6 lies about being productive:

  • 04:02 – Everything matters equally – this explains that successful people are those who prioritise the things that make the biggest impact. No surprise this covers the 80/20 rule.
  • 04:21 – Multi-tasking is another lie. The authors draw on credible research that explains why it is a myth that multi-tasking is in some way a good thing. The most telling figure that jumped out of the page for me was that we lose (on average) 28% of our day when we try and multi-task.
  • 04:58 – A disciplined life is a successful life is another lie. They stress that discipline is necessary, but not as much as you think. It is about “selective discipline” – choosing the right habit to be disciplined about.
  • 05:27 – Thinking we can turn willpower on and off is also wrong. Our will power has a limited battery life every day. The authors quote research carried out on judges making appeal court decisions that was most enlightening.
  • 06:26 – Trying to achieve a work life balance is another mistaken concept people believe in. The authors pretty much make the case that seeking a work/life balance is a path to mediocrity (my words not theirs). They recommend a life of counter-balance – to achieve extraordinary results you need to choose what matters and give it all the time necessary.
  • 07:37 – Big Is Bad – They make the case that striving to push back the boundaries on our lives and raise the ceiling on our performance is the path to a fulfilled life. And the way to do that – think big.

07:52 – In part 2 of the book the authors start sharing their “truths” in response to the lies as they perceive them. And it is in this part that the secret of The One Thing is revealed.

08:01 – The secret to success is the effect deployment of the Focusing Question. It is a question so beautifully crafted and so insightful in its probing for a good answer, that it is worth buying the book just for these 19 words. [NO SPOILER HERE I’M AFRAID – BUY THE BOOK!]

08:42 – Success in life (in the authors’ opinion) is simply about making a habit of asking the focusing question on a regular basis across all areas of your life.

[POST RECORDING NOTE – As simple as that sounds, I completely agree with their opinion]

08:50 – Part 2 is wrapped up with a chapter that looks at the importance of asking great questions to find great answers. Not an unexpected chapter given the core idea in the book is to ask the focusing question.

09:09 – Part 3 of the book looks at how to unlock your potential. The authors use an iceberg model with three levels:

  • Productivity (the top level and the one above the waterline)
  • Priority
  • Purpose

10:32 – I’ll expand on the things I liked about the book and why I recommend it in a moment, but one thing I liked was how the authors closed out the book. They offered advice on 3 commitments necessary to make [READ THE BOOK] but also provided warning on 4 things that could potentially derail your success. I found this realistic guidance both grounding and encouraging showing a balanced attitude towards what it takes to be successful (there’s no snake oil here!)

11:22 – Here’s why I like this book (a lot):

  • I think the way the book is structured makes it an easy read and an easy reference book once you have read it.
  • 11:39 – Every chapter has a quick summary of the “Big Ideas” to take away from that chapter which means you can quickly pick out the benefits from the book with a selective scan of the pages.
  • 11:53 – There is plenty of credible research cited in the book to illustrate the points made.
  • 12:02 – I really like the informally drawn illustrations found throughout the book. It almost feels like you are sat beside the authors as they explain some of the concepts by drawing them out on a legal pad.
  • 12:20 – The use of the author’s stories of how they have applied the concepts adds more texture to the framework of advice.

I strongly recommend The One Thing and will be reading it (nay devouring it) in greater depth over the coming days as I seek greater clarity on what to focus my efforts on.

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