Book Review: The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
Gary Keller is an entrepreneur in real estate business. His company, as per Wikipedia, is the “largest real estate company in the world by agent count”. He has also authored books relating to real estate sector. The co-author, Jay Papasan, belongs to the publishing sector, most likely is the person who has put the ideas to writing and gone into the presentation part. This book was first published in 2013, and is one of the finest books on self help / self improvement / motivation segment.
We have heard things like “don’t put all eggs in one basket”, and at many places we can still hear the virtues of ability to multitask. This book is different. This book goes in the direction of focus on one thing. It’s saying to put most, if not all the eggs in one basket. It differs from many other books on “focus” and its sister “concentration” by integrating the subject with steps by which we can implement it in our lives, transforming the concept into a philosophy for everyday living – for those who agree with the concept.
The book starts with a personal anecdote of transforming his company and his realization that “Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.” This is a generalized form of the concept of focus as expounded by Cal Newport in Deep Work
Often people get confused as to how one can focus on one thing when there are so many things to do in everyday life. Apart from work and business, there are kids, friends, social meetings, outings, necessary household chores. And one might think that all these demands multi-tasking as our core skill, and consequently many wilfully un-focus themselves and engage in different activities that may not be adding much to their life. It would be wrong to assume that when we say “focus” on one thing, it means exclusion of other activities. Many activities which we think as important or feel personally responsible can be outsourced, delegated, or even put aside. Focusing on one is really about focusing all our efforts and energies on the most important area of our life. And this can be anything that inspires us, or is work related.
The books starts by expounding on “the six lies between you and success”. These are:
“1) Everything matters equally
3) A Disciplined Life
4) Will power is always on will-call
5) A Balanced Life
6) Big is bad”
These are wonderful premises over which to build up the book. These topics are dealt with in part one. Part two deals with productivity and part three with “unlocking the possibilities”. What I liked about the book is that at the end of each chapter there is a succinct section of “Big Ideas” that gives summary of the concepts dealt with in the chapter.
Part three prescirbes three things: Live with purpose, live by priority, and live for productivity.
The one on productivity deals with “time blocking”. It’s this time block where one should do that “one” thing. “If disproportionate results come from one activity, then you must give that one activity disproportionate time.”. It’s like looking at the old concept of “time table” in a complete new perspective.
Another interesting chapter is the one that deals with “The Three Commitments”, and deals with
(a) following the path of mastery – something that many motivational speakers and authors have spoken about many times. Robin Sharma has even written The Mastery Manual
(b) moving from entrepreneurial approach to purposeful approach
(c) living a life of accountability
I loved the copy edit of the book. The hardcover comes with printed underlines of main points (which when I saw initially, I thought someone had really underlined the sentence with a pencil). Besides that there are interesting visual illustrations.
It is a wonderful book to keep and refer to time and again, whenever one feels that one is losing orientation or direction.
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