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The One Thing by Gary Keller - 3 Big Ideas

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

Transcription Below



This book came out in 2013.

It was written by Gary Keller.

It is 240 pages hardcover and 5hrs 28mins audiobook.

The One Thing was chosen by Hudson's Booksellers as one of the top 5 business books of 2013. Executive Book Summaries put it in the top 30 for 2013.

A refined take on the 80/20 rule (or the Pareto principle) that says 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.

To sum it up in 1 sentence:

"Be like a postage stamp; stick to one thing until you get there."

My 3 Favorite Things

1. Thinking Big

I love this concept and he talks about it in the book but I've heard this concept before, in other books, so I'm just going to give you my take.

Okay, so what's a goal that you have? Let's just make it financial and say that you want to make $100,000 dollars this year.

Now add the thinking big and 10x your goal. Suddenly you have to make $1m this year. Everything has changed. $2,000 a week isn't going to cut it anymore, now it's $20,000 a week.

Go for it, what's the worst that could happen? You miss your $1m goal maybe, but you beat your original goal.

What's the best that could happen? You hit your 10x goal.

Either way, you will have to think differently and with more oomph.

I loved the quote at the end of this segment too, the gist of it was:

"When you think big the goal looks like a mountain. Take step after step and the mountain shrinks. When you have passed it, it just looks like a small hill. The mountain is the same size, it's you who has grown."

2. Four Productivity Thieves

  • Inability to say no

  • Chaos

  • Poor health habits

  • Unsupportive environment

You need to be able to tell people no. If what they ask you doesn't align with your priorities, find a nice way of saying no. Otherwise, you will take on a bunch of projects and regret it passively aggressively mumble to yourself about how your time should be better spent.

Don't let chaos control you. While you are focused on your One Thing you will have distractions. Not just facebook tings and news alerts. Like, breakups and angry people and unsupportive friends. Learn to deal with the chaos. I recommend reading The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield for extra help in the dealing with chaos arena. The 3 Things review is coming out for it in a few weeks.

You won't be at the top of your game if you are not eating right and exercising. Groggy and moodiness is an effect of a poor diet and a hindrance to success. I recommend reading The Bulletproof Diet, by Dave Asprey if you have no clue where to start diet-wise. A great quote in the book, "If you don't take care of your body, where will you live?"

You are the average of the top 5 people you hang around with. It's called the law of averages. Not the theory of averages or the hypothesis of averages. The law. If you are like me and live in a small town and have a group of friends that have different goals and values you may have to outsource your top 5 peeps. I do this through podcasts. I listen to these successful people and mentally associate with them so give myself a peer group of high achievers. You can check out my list of podcasts at

^^^this page doesn't exist anymore! Check out the new website and send me an email if you want to know what I'm listening to nowadays :)

3. Regrets

Keller mentions an excerpt from The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, by Bronnie Ware, laying out the top five regrets:

“I wish that I’d let myself be happier”“I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends”“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

It's important to remember to factor these into your life. If your goals exclude these things, you may live to regret it.


Rating 5/5. Great book.

Reminds me of the book: Essentialism, by Greg Mckeown, both are great 80/20 rule books.

Their website:

I'd like to end on a profound story that I read in this book;

An executive is busy working in his home office when his 6-year-old son comes in and starts asking him to play. After much persistence followed by much frustration, the exec pulls out a magazine and opens it to a large fold-out map of the world. Pulling out the map, he cuts it into hundreds of tiny pieces and gives them to his son. “here, son, after you put together this map of the world, then I’ll play with you.” Knowing that a 6-year-old has no idea what a map of the world looks like, he assumed that this task should keep his son busy for at least a couple hours. But ten minutes later his son came back into the office and said, “All done, daddy.” The executive thought his son was exaggerating, but upon going into the living room, the entire map was perfectly assembled. “Son, how did you figure out how to do this so quickly?” “It was easy, Daddy.” the boy began turning over the pieces one at a time, and as he did, his father saw that on the other side of the world map was a photograph of a man. “You see, Daddy. When you put the man together the world just falls into place.”

Want to Read it?

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