The One Thing

The One Thing

Author – Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared Diamond
Being Together, Working Apart: Dual-Career Families and the Work-Life Balance – Ralph E. Gomory
The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance – K. Anders Ericsson(10k hr rule)
Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives
The top five regrets of the dying

Be like a postage stamp; stick to one thing until you get there.” – Josh Billings

What’s the ONE thing you can do such that by doing it, everything else would be easier or unnecessary?

Where I’d had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.

“Going small” is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do.

Extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.

Big success comes when we do a few things well.

You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.

Going small is a simple approach to extraordinary results, and it works. It works all the time, anywhere, and on anything.

→ Because it only has one purpose: to ultimately get you to the point.

Every day, highly successful people line up their priorities anew, find the lead domino, and whack away at it until it falls.

Extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous.

The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.

It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.” – Og Mandino

Extraordinarily successful companies always have one product or service they’re most known for or that makes them the most money.

The most successful companies know this and are always asking: “What’s our ONE thing?”

There can only be one most important thing. Many things are important, but only one can be the most important.” – Ross Garber

Everyone has one person who either means the most to them or was the first to influence, train, or manage them. No one succeeds alone. No one.

You must be single-minded. Drive for the one thing on which you have decided.” – General George S. Patton

Often, the line between passion and skill can be blurry.
→ They’re almost always connected.

Passion for something leads to disproportionate time practicing or working at it. That time spent eventually translates to skill, and when skill improves, results improve. Better results generally lead to more enjoyment, more passion, and more time invested. It can be a virtuous cycle all the way to extraordinary results.

Success demands singleness of purpose.” – Vince Lombardi

The ONE thing shows up time and again in the lives of success because it’s a fundamental truth.

Applying the ONE thing to your work and in your life is the simplest and smartest thing you can do to propel yourself toward the success you want.

The 6 lies between you and success:

  1. Everything matters equally.
  2. Multitasking.
  3. A disciplined life.
  4. Willpower is always on will.
  5. A balanced life.
  6. Big is bad.
1. Everything matters equally.

Equality is a lie.

The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest.” – Bob Hawke

Achievers always work with a clear sense of priority.

Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list: a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.

The 80/20 Principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards.” – Richard Koch

The majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do.

No matter how many to-dos you start with, you can always narrow it down to one.

Big ideas:
  1. Go small. Don’t focus on being busy; focus on being productive. Allow what matters most to drive your day.
  2. Go extreme. Once you’ve figured out what actually matters, keep asking what matters most until there is only one thing left. That core activity goes to the top of your success list.
  3. Say no. Whether you say “later” or “never”, the point is to say “not now” to anything else you could do until your most important work is done.
  4. Don’t get trapped in the “check off” game. If we believe things don’t matter equally, we must act accordingly. We can’t fall prey to the notion that everything has to be done, and that checking things off our list is what success is all about. We can’t be trapped in a game of “check off” that never produces a winner. The truth is that things don’t matter equally, and success is found in doing what matters most.
Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.
2. Multitasking

Multitasking is a lie.

Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” – Steve Uzzell

We accept no arguments and have no tolerance for anything but total concentration from pilots and doctors.

Do we not value our own job or take it as seriously?

Why would we ever tolerate multitasking when we’re doing our most important work?

Your work deserves no less respect.

We each not only have a job to do, but a job that deserves to be well done.

Big ideas:
  1. Distraction is natural. Don’t feel bad when you get distracted. Everyone gets distracted.
  2. Multitasking takes a toll. At home or at work, distractions lead to poor choices, painful mistakes, and unnecessary stress.
  3. Distraction undermines results. When you try to do too much at once, you can end up doing nothing well. Figure out what matters most at the moment and give it your undivided attention.
Though multitasking is sometimes possible, it’s never possible to do it effectively.
3. A disciplined life

Discipline is a lie.

Success is actually a short race: a sprint fueled by discipline, just long enough for a habit to kick in and take over.

The foundation for achievement → regularly working at something until it regularly works for you.

You can become successful with less discipline than you think for one simple reason: success is about doing the right thingnot about doing everything right.

When you do the right thing, it can liberate you from having to monitor everything.

It takes an average of 66 days to acquire a new habit.

→ The full range is 18 to 254 days, but 66 days represent a sweet spot; with easier behaviors taking fewer days on average and tough ones taking longer.

People who successfully acquired one positive habit reported:

  • less stress
  • less impulsive spending
  • better dietary habits
  • decreased alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine consumption
  • fewer hours watching TV
  • and even fewer dirty dishes.
Big ideas:
  1. Don’t be a disciplined person. Be a person of powerful habits and use selected discipline to develop them.
  2. Build one habit at a time. Success is sequential, not simultaneous. No one actually has the discipline to acquire more than one powerful new habit at a time. Super successful people aren’t superhuman at all; they’ve just used selected discipline to develop a few significant habits. One at a time. Over time.
  3. Give each habit enough time. Stick with the discipline long enough for it to become routine. Once a habit is solidly established, you can either build on that habit or, if appropriate, build another one.

If you are what you repeatedly do, then achievement isn’t an action you take, but a habit you forge into your life. You don’t have to seek out success. Harness the power of selected discipline to build the right habit, and extraordinary results will find you.

4. Willpower is always on will

Willpower is always on will is a lie.

Willpower has a limited battery life.

The more we use our minds, the less minding power we have.

Foods that elevate blood sugar evenly over long periods, like complex carbs and proteins, become the fuel of choice for high-achievers.

You make doing what matters most a priority when your willpower is at its highest.

→ You give it the time of day it deserves.

What taxes your willpower:

  • implementing new behaviors
  • filtering distractions
  • resisting temptation
  • suppressing emotion
  • restraining aggression
  • suppressing impulses
  • taking tests
  • trying to impress others
  • coping with fear
  • doing something you don’t enjoy
  • selecting long-term over short-term rewards
Do your most important work, your ONE thing, earlybefore your willpower is drawn down.

→ Since your self-control will be sapped throughout the day, use it when it’s at full strength on what matters most.

Big ideas:
  1. Don’t spread your willpower too thin. On any given day, you have a limited supply of willpower, so decide what matters and reserve your willpower for it.
  2. Monitor your fuel gauge. Full-strength willpower requires a full tank. Never let what matters most be compromised simply because your brain was under-fueled. Eat right and regularly.
  3. Time your task. Do what matters most first each day when your willpower is strongest. Maximum strength and willpower mean maximum success.

Don’t fight your willpower. Build your days around how it works and let it do its part to build your life. Willpower may not be on will call, but when you use it first on what matters most, you can always count on it.

5. A balanced life

A balanced life is a lie.

The reason we shouldn’t pursue balance is that magic never happens in the middle; magic happens at the extremes.

To achieve an extraordinary result, you must choose what matters most and give it all the time it demands.

→ This requires getting extremely out of balance in relation to all other work issues.

In your personal life, go short and avoid long periods where you’re out of balance. Going short lets you stay connected to all the things that matter most and move them along together.

In your professional life, go long and make peace with the idea that the pursuit of extraordinary results may require you to be out of balance for long periods.

Extraordinary results demand that you set a priority and act on it. When you act on your priority, you’ll automatically go out of balance, giving more time to one thing over another.

When you’re supposed to be working, work, and when you’re supposed to be playing, play.

Big ideas
  1. Think about two balancing buckets. Separate your work life and personal life into two distinct buckets, not to compartmentalize them, just for counterbalancing. Each has its own counterbalancing goals and approaches.
  2. Counterbalance your work bucket. View work as involving a skill or knowledge that must be mastered. This will cause you to give disproportionate time to your ONE thing and will throw the rest of your work day, week, month, and year continually out of balance. Your work life is divided into two distinct areas: what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be okay with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.
  3. Counterbalance your personal life bucket. Acknowledge that your life actually has multiple areas and that each requires a minimum of attention for you to feel that you “have a life.” Drop anyone and you will feel the effects. This requires constant awareness. You must never go too long or too far without counterbalancing them so that they are all active areas of your life. Your personal life requires it.

Start leading a counterbalanced life. Let the right things take precedence when they should, and get to the rest when you can.

An extraordinary life is a counterbalancing act.

6. Big is bad

Big is bad is a lie.

No one knows their ultimate ceiling for achievement, so worrying about it is a waste of time.

The only actions that become springboards to succeeding big are those informed by big thinking, to begin with.

What you build today will either empower or restrict you tomorrow.

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.” – Thomas Henry Huxley

Big gives you the best chance for extraordinary results today and tomorrow.

Growth-minded people employ better learning strategies, experience less helplessness, exhibit more positive effort, and achieve more.

Don’t fear big. Fear mediocrity. Fear waste. Fear the lack of living to your fullest.

Only living big will let you experience your true life and work potential.

Big ideas:
  1. Think big. Avoid incremental thinking that simply asks, “what do I do next?” This is at best the slow lane to success, and at worst, the off-ramp. Ask bigger questions. A good rule of thumb is to double down everywhere in your life. If your goal is ten, ask: “How can I reach 20?” Set a goal so far above what you want that you’ll be building a plan that practically guarantees your original goal.
  2. Don’t order from the menu. The point is that successful people didn’t choose from the available options. They imagined outcomes that no one else had. They ignored the menu and ordered their own creations. “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the only ones who do.”
  3. Act bold. Big thoughts go nowhere without bold action. Once you’ve asked a big question, pause to imagine what life looks like with the answer. If you still can’t imagine it, go study people who have already achieved it. What are the models, systems, habits, and relationships of other people who have found the answer? As much as we’d like to believe we’re all different, what consistently works for others will almost always work for us.
  4. Don’t fear failure. It’s as much a part of your journey to extraordinary results as a success. Adopt a growth mindset, and don’t be afraid of where it can take you. Extraordinary results aren’t built solely on extraordinary results. They’re built on failure too. In fact, it would be accurate to say that we fail our way to success. When we fail, we stop, ask what we need to do to succeed, learn from our mistakes, and grow. Don’t be afraid to fail. See it as part of your learning process and keep striving for your true potential.

Don’t let small thinking cut your life down to size. Think big, aim high, and act bold. And see just how big you can blow up your life.

Be careful how you interpret the world; it is like that.” – Erich Heller

Things the author found out:
  • We overthinkover-plan, and overanalyze our careers, our businesses, and our lives.
  • Long hours are neither virtuous nor healthy.
  • We usually succeed in spite of most of what we do, not because of it.
  • We can’t manage time.
  • The key to success isn’t in all the things we do but in the handful of things we do well.

Success comes down to this: being appropriate in the moments of your life.

You need to be able to say: “This is where I’m meant to be right now, doing exactly what I’m doing.”

→ Then all the amazing possibilities for your life become possible.

Concentrate your energy, thought, and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it. ‘Put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.’ Look around you: men who do that do not fail often. It is easy to watch and carry in one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that break most of the eggs in this country.” – Carnegie

Ask the right question, and get the right answer. Ask the most powerful question possible, and the answer can be life-altering.

→ The quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question.

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire

Socratic Method → teaching through questions.
Asking questions improves learning and performance by as much as 150 percent.

Sometimes questions are more important than answers.” – Nancy Willard

Life is a question and how we live it is our answer.

How we phrase the questions we ask ourselves determines the answers that eventually become our life.

→ Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.

What is the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
→ The Focusing Question always aims to make the best decision.

Extraordinary results come from the choices we make and the actions we take.

Big ideas:
  1. Great questions are the path to great answers. The Focusing Question is a great question designed to find a great answer. It will help you find the first domino for your job, your business, or any other area in which you want to achieve extraordinary results.
  2. The Focusing Question is a double-duty question. It comes in two forms: big picture and small focus. One is about finding the right direction in life and the other is about finding the right action.
  3. The Big-picture Question: “What’s my ONE thing?” Use it to develop a vision for your life and the direction for your career or company; it is your strategic compass. It also works when considering what you want to master, what you want to give to others and your community, and how you want to be remembered. It keeps your relationships with friends, family, and colleagues in perspective and your daily actions on track.
  4. The Small-focus Question: “What’s my ONE thing right now?” Use this when you first wake up and throughout the day. It keeps you focused on your most important work and, whenever you need it, helps you find the “levered action” or first domino in any activity. The small-focus question prepares you for the most productive workweek possible. It’s effective in your personal life too, keeping you attentive to your most important immediate needs, as well as those of the most important people in your life.
    → Asking the Focusing Question is the ultimate success habit for your life.

Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.” – Arnold H. Glasow

Start with the big stuff and see where it takes you.

Important areas of one’s life:

  • spiritual life
  • physical health
  • personal life
  • key relationships
  • job
  • business
  • financial life
    _→ in that order.
    → Say the category first, then state the question, add a time frame, and end by adding ‘such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

For my SPIRITUAL life

  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to help others?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to improve my relationship with God?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to achieve my diet goals?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to ensure that I exercise?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to relieve my stress?
    For my PERSONAL life
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to improve my skill?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to find time for myself?
    For my key RELATIONSHIPS
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to improve my relationship with my partner?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to improve my children’s school performance?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to show my appreciation to my parents?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to make my family stronger?
    For my JOB
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to ensure that I hit my goals?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to improve my skills?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to help my team succeed?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to further my career?
    For my BUSINESS
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to make us more competitive?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to make our product the best?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to make us more profitable?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to improve our customer experience?
    For my FINANCES
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to increase my net worth?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to improve my investment cash flow?
  • What’s the ONE thing I can do to eliminate my credit card debt?
Big ideas:
  1. Understand and believe it. The first step is to understand the concept of the ONE thing, then to believe that it can make a difference in your life. If you don’t understand and believe, you won’t take action.
  2. Use it. Ask yourself the Focusing Question. Start each 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?’ When you do this, your direction will become clear. Your work will be more productive and your personal life more rewarding.
  3. Make it a habit. When you make asking the Focusing Question a habit, you fully engage its power to get the extraordinary results you want. It’s a difference-maker. Research says this will take about 66 days. Whether it takes you a few weeks or a few months, stick with it until it becomes your routine. If you’re not serious about learning the Success Habit, you’re not serious about getting extraordinary results.
  4. Leverage reminders. Set up ways to remind yourself to use the Focusing Question. One of the best ways to do this is to put up a sign at work that says: ‘Until my ONE thing is done; everything else is a distraction.’ We designed the back cover of this book to be a trigger; set it on the corner of your desk so that it’s the first thing you see when you get to work. Use notes, screen savers, and calendar cues to keep making the connection between the Success Habit and the results you seek. Put up reminders like, ‘The ONE thing = Extraordinary results’ or ‘The Success Habit will get me to my goal.’
  5. Recruit support. Research shows that those around you can influence you tremendously. Starting a success support group with some of your work colleagues can help inspire all of you to practice the Success Habit every day. Get your family involved. Share your One thing. Get them on board. Use the Focusing Question around them to show them how to the Success Habit can make a difference in their school work, their personal achievements, or any other part of their lives.
    → This one habit can become the foundation for many more, so keep your Success Habit working as powerfully as possible.
You ask a great question, then you seek out a great answer.

small + specific →What can I do to increase sales by 5 percent this year?

small + broad → What can I do to increase sales?

big + broad → What can I do to double sales?

big + specific → What can I do to double sales in six months?

A big, specific question leads to a big, specific answer, which is absolutely necessary for achieving a big goal.

Identify what absolutely matters most and start there.

Answers come in three categories: doable, stretch, and possibility.

Doable → one that is already within reach of your knowledge, skills, and experience.

Stretch → potentially achievable and probable depending on effort; most likely have to do some research and study what others have done to come up with this answer.

Possibility → The Great Answer. Outside your comfort zone. Benchmark and trend.

Benchmarking and trending are what only the greatest achievers do.

Extraordinary results require a Great Answer.

By default, your first ONE thing is to search for clues and role models to point you in the right direction.

‘Has anyone else studied or accomplished this or something like it?’

→ The answer is almost always yes.

→ Try to find people who have already gone down the road you’re traveling so you can research, model, benchmark, and trend their experience.

The research and experience of others is the best place to start when looking for your answer.

Once you benchmark the maximum stretch answer as your minimum, this is called trending. You’re looking for the next thing you can do in the same direction that best performers are heading or, if necessary, in an entirely new direction.

###### Big ideas: 1. Think big and specific. Setting a goal you intend to achieve is like asking a question. It’s a simple step from ‘I’d like to do that’ to ‘How do I achieve that?’ The best question, and by default, the best goal, is big and specific: big because you’re after extraordinary results; specific, to give you something to aim at and to leave no wiggle room about whether you hit the mark. A big and specific question, especially in the form of the Focusing Question, helps you zero in on the best possible answer. 2. Think possibilities. Setting a doable goal is almost like creating a task to check off your list. A stretch goal is more challenging. It aims at the edge of your current abilities; you have to stretch to reach it. The best goal explores what’s possible. When you see people and businesses that have undergone transformations, this is where they live. 3. Benchmark and trend for the best answer. No one has a crystal ball, but with practice, you can become surprisingly good at anticipating where things are heading. The people and businesses who get there first often enjoy the lion’s share of the rewards with few, if any, competitors. Benchmark and trend to find the extraordinary answer you need for extraordinary results.

A simple formula for implementing the ONE thing and achieving extraordinary results → purposepriority, and productivity.

→ This is the straightest path to extraordinary results.

Productivity is driven by purpose and priority.

All business people want productivity and profit, but too many fail to realize that the best path to attaining them is through purpose-driven priority.

Personal productivity is the building block of all business profit.

Great businesses are built by one productive person at a time.

Connecting purpose, priority, and productivity determines how high above the rest successful individuals and profitable businesses rise. Understanding this is at the core of producing extraordinary results.

Our purpose sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce.

Who we are and where we can’t go determines what we do and what we accomplish.

A life lived on purpose is the most powerful of all and the happiest.

→ Having money and things won’t automatically lead to lasting happiness.

5 factors that contribute to our happiness:

  • positive emotion and pleasure
  • achievement
  • relationships
  • engagement
  • meaning

→ Becoming engaged in what we do by finding ways to make our life more meaningful is the surest way to finding lasting happiness.

→ When our daily actions fulfill a bigger purpose, the most powerful and enduring happiness can happen.

Financially wealthy people are those who have enough money coming in without having to work to finance their purpose in life.

Happiness happens when you have a bigger purpose than having more fulfillment., which is why we say happiness happens on the way to fulfillment.

The purpose is the straightest path to power and the ultimate source of personal strength.

→ strength of conviction and strength to persevere.

→ The prescription for extraordinary results is knowing what matters to you and taking daily doses of actions in alignment with it.

→ When you have a definite purpose for your life, clarity comes faster, which leads to more conviction in your direction, which usually leads to faster decisions.

Sticking with something long enough for success to show up is a fundamental requirement for achieving extraordinary results.

‘What’s the ONE thing I can do in my life that would mean the most to me and the world, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?’

Big ideas:
  1. Happiness happens on the way to fulfillment. We all want to be happy, but seeking it isn’t the best way to find it. The surest path to achieving lasting happiness happens when you make your life about something bigger and when you bring meaning and purpose to your everyday actions.
  2. Discover your big why. Discover your purpose by asking yourself what drives you. What’s the thing that gets you up in the morning and keeps you going when you’re tired and worn down? I sometimes refer to this as your ‘Big Why.’ It’s why you’re excited about your life. It’s why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  3. Absent an answer, pick a direction. ‘purpose’ may sound heavy but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as simply the ONE thing you want your life to be more about than any other. Try writing down something you’d like to accomplish and then describe how you’d do it.

→ Pick a direction, start marching down that path, and see how you like it.

Purpose without priority is powerless.

Our ability to achieve extraordinary results lies in stringing together powerful moments, one after the other.

What you do in any given moment determines what you experience in the next.

Your “present now” and all “future nows” are undeniably determined by the priority you live in the moment.

The further away a reward is in the future, the smaller the immediate motivation to achieve it.

Connect today to all your tomorrows. It matters.

those who visualized the process performed better across the board.

Visualizing the process, breaking a big goal down into the steps needed to achieve it, helps engage the strategic thinking you need to plan for and achieve extraordinary results.


Writing down your goals and your most important priority is your final step to living by priority.

→ Those who wrote down their goals were 40% more likely to accomplish them.

Big ideas:
  1. There can only be ONE. Your most important priority is the ONE thing you can do right now that will help you achieve what matters most to you. You may have many “priorities” but dig deep and you’ll discover there is always one that matters most, your top priority, your ONE thing.
  2. Set a goal for the now. Knowing your future goal is how you begin. Identifying the steps you need to accomplish along the way keeps your thinking clear while you uncover the right priority you need to accomplish right now.
  3. Put pen to paper. Write your goals down and keep them close.

Productive action transforms lives.

Living for productivity produces extraordinary results.

The most successful people are the most productive people.

→ They devote maximum time to being productive as their top priority.

→ They time block their ONE thing and then protect their time blocks with a vengeance.

Time blocking → It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done.

→ When you time block, you’re creating the most productive day possible in a way that’s repeatable every day for the rest of your life.

If disproportionate results come from one activity, then you must give that one activity disproportionate time.

→ Those who do this are the ones who not only become the most accomplished, but who also have the most career opportunities.

Every day great salespeople generate leads, great programmers program, and great artists paint.

Great success shows up when time is devoted every day to becoming great.

To achieve extraordinary results and experience greatness:

  1. Time block your time off.
  2. Time block your ONE thing.
  3. Time block your planning time.

To achieve extraordinary results and experience greatness:

  1. Time block your time off. →
  • When you intend to be successful, you start by protecting time to recharge and reward yourself.
  • Resting is as important as working.
  1. Time block your ONE thing.
  • The most important appointment each day is with themselves, and they never miss it.
  • The most productive people work on event time.(results-oriented)
  • Block time as early in your day as you possibly can.
  • Block four hours a day; that’s the minimum.
  • Early in his career Stephen King had to find his time blocks where he could because his day job didn’t accommodate his ambition for his life. Once extraordinary results started showing up and he could earn a living from his ONE thing, he was able to move his time blocks to a more sustainable time.
  1. Time block your planning time.
  • Block an hour each week to review your annual, monthly, and weekly goals.
  • ‘Based on where I am right now, what’s the ONE thing I need to do this week to stay on track for my monthly goal and for my monthly goal to be on track for my annual goal?’
  • Seinfeld wrote jokes every day. Hung a calendar and put an X for each day. Don’t break the chain. → It’s simple. It’s based on doing ONE thing, and it creates its own momentum.

→ There is magic in knocking down your most important domino day after day.


All meetings get clustered at the end of the day.

Be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon.

Follow the rule: ‘If you erase, you must replace.’ and immediately reschedule your time block.
Put up a sheet of paper that says “Until my ONE thing is done——Everything else is a distraction!”

Your own need to do other things instead of your ONE thing may be your biggest challenge to overcome.

4 proven ways to battle distractions:

  1. Build a bunker. → Find somewhere to work that takes you out of the path of disruption and interruption.
  2. Store provisions → Have any supplies, materials, snacks, or beverages on hand. Don’t move.
  3. Sweep for mines → Turn off your phone, shut down your e-mail, etc.
  4. Enlist support → Ask for help from others.
Big ideas
  1. Connect the dots. Extraordinary results become possible when where you want to go is completely aligned with what you do today. Tap into your purpose and allow that clarity to dictate your priorities. With your priorities clear, the only logical course is to go to work.
  2. Time block your ONE thing. The best way to make your ONE thing happen is to make regular appointments with yourself. Block time early in the day, and block big chunks of it; no less than four hours! Think of it this way: If your time blocking were on trial, would your calendar contain enough evidence to convict you?
  3. Protect your time block at all costs. Time blocking works only when your mantra is “Nothing and no one has permission to distract me from my ONE thing.” Unfortunately, your resolve won’t keep the world from trying, so be creative when you can be and firm when you must. Your time block is the most important meeting of your day, so whatever it takes to protect it is what you have to do.

Achieving extraordinary results through time blocking requires 3 commitments.

  1. You must adopt the mindset of someone seeking mastery.
  2. You must continually seek the very best way of doing things.
  3. You must be willing to held accountable.
  4. You must adopt the mindset of someone seeking mastery.
  • When you see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable.
  • At its core, mastery is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience.
  • The healthy view of mastery means giving the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work.
  • The journey of mastery never ends.
  • Time on a task, over time, eventually beats talent every time.
  • Make sure you approach your ONE thing with a mastery mentality.
  • What might pleasantly surprise you is how giving yourself over to mastering ONE thing serves as a platform for and speeds up the process of, doing other things.
  1. You must continually seek the very best way of doing things.
  • The path of mastering something is the combination of not only doing the best you can do at it, but also doing it the best it can be done.
  • Look for models and systems, better ways to do things to push them through. They pause just long enough to examine their options, they pick the best one, and then they’re right back at it.
  • You have to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things if you want breakthroughs in your life.
  • “A different result requires doing something different.”
  • Look for better models and systems, the ways that can take you farther. Then adopt new thinking, new skills, and new relationships to help you put them into action. Become purposeful during your time block, and unlock your potential.
  1. You must be willing to be held accountable to doing everything you can to achieve your ONE thing.
  • Taking complete ownership of your outcomes by holding no one but yourself responsible for them is the most powerful thing you can do to drive your success.
  • Accountable people absorb setbacks and keep going. Accountable people persevere through problems and keep pushing forward. Accountable people are results-oriented and never defend actions, skill levels, models, systems, or relationships that just aren’t getting the job done. They bring their best to whatever it takes, without reservation.
  • Accountable people achieve results others only dream of.
  • When life happens, you can be either the author of your life or the victim of it. Those are your only two options.

Highly successful people are clear about their role in the events of their life.

They don’t fear reality. They seek it, acknowledge it, and own it.


The single most important difference between amateurs and elite performers is that they seek out teachers and coaches.
Big ideas:
  1. Commit to being your best. Extraordinary results happen only when you give the best you can have to become the best you can be at your most important work. This is, in essence, the path to mastery, and because mastery takes time, it takes a commitment to achieve it.
  2. Be purposeful about your ONE thing. Go on a quest for the models and systems that can take you the farthest. Don’t just settle for what comes naturally; be open to new thinking, new skills, and new relationships. If the path of mastery is a commitment to be your best, being purposeful is a commitment to adopt the best possible approach.
  3. Take ownership of your outcomes. If extraordinary results are what you want, being a victim won’t work. Change occurs only when you’re accountable. So stay out of the passenger seat and always choose the driver’s side.
  4. Find a coach. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who achieves extraordinary results without one.

The 4 thieves of productivity:

  1. Inability to say No
  2. Fear of chaos
  3. Poor health habits
  4. Environment doesn’t support your goals
  5. Inability to say No
  • When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you’re saying no to.
  • You can’t please everyone, so don’t try.
  • A request must be connected to my ONE thing for me to consider it.
  • “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
  1. Fear of chaos
  • Focusing on ONE thing has a guaranteed consequence: other things don’t get done.
  • When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up.
  • “Anything you build on a large scale or with intense passion invites chaos” – Francis Ford Coppola
  • Get used to it and get over it.
  1. Poor health habits
  • High achievement and extraordinary results require big energy.
  • Begin early with meditation and prayer for spiritual energy.
  • Then move straight to the kitchen for your most important meal of the day and the cornerstone of physical energy: a nutritious breakfast designed to fuel your day’s work.
  • Fueled up, head to your exercise spot to relieve stress and strengthen your body.
  • Productive people thrive on emotional energy.
  • Next, grab your calendar and plan your day.
  • When you get to work, go to work on your ONE thing.
  • Around noon, take a break, have lunch, and turn your attention to everything else you can do before you head out for the day.
  • Last, in the evening when it’s time for bed, get eight hours of sleep.

The highly productive person’s daily energy plan

  1. Meditate and pray for spiritual energy.
  2. Eat right, exercise, and sleep sufficiently for physical energy.
  3. Hug, kiss, and laugh with loved ones for emotional energy.
  4. Set goals, plan, and calendar for mental energy.
  5. Time block your ONE thing for business energy.
    When you spend the early hours energizing yourself, you get pulled through the rest of the day with little additional effort.
  6. Environment doesn’t support your goals
  • Your environment must support your goals.
  • Who you see and what you experience every day.
  • The people surrounding you and your physical surroundings must support your goals.
  • Attitude is contagious; it spreads easily.
  • No one is strong enough to avoid the influence of negativity forever.
  • So surrounding yourself with the right people is the right thing to do.


Being with success-minded people creates what researchers call a ‘positive spiral of success’ where they lift up and send you on your way.

Hanging out with people who seek success will strengthen your motivation and positively push your performance.

No one succeeds alone and no one fails alone. Pay attention to the people around you.

Seek out those who will support your goals, and show the door to anyone who won’t.

When you clear the path to success; that’s when you consistently get there.

Big ideas:
  1. Start saying ‘no’. Always remember that when you say yes to something, you’re saying no to everything else. It’s the essence of keeping a commitment. Start turning down other requests outright or saying ‘No, for now’ to distractions so that nothing detracts you from getting to your top priority. Learning to say no can and will liberate you. It’s how you’ll find the time for your ONE thing.
  2. Accept chaos. Recognize that pursuing your ONE thing moves other things to the back burner. Loose ends can feel like snares, creating tangles in your path. This kind of chaos is unavoidable. Make peace with it Learn to deal with it. The success you have accomplishing your ONE thing will continually prove you made the right decision.
  3. Manage your energy. Don’t sacrifice your health by trying to take on too much. Your body is an amazing machine, but it doesn’t come with a warranty, you can’t trade it in, and repairs can be costly. 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.
  4. Take ownership of your environment. Make sure that the people around you and your physical surroundings support your goals. The right people in your life and the right physical environment on your daily path will support your efforts to get to your ONE thing. When both are in alignment with your ONE thing, they will supply the optimism and physical lift you need to make your ONE thing happen.

At any moment in time, there can be only ONE thing. When that ONE thing is in line with your purpose and sits atop your priorities, it will be the most productive thing you can do to launch you toward the best you can be.

Actions builds on action. Habits build on habit. Success builds on success.

Your journey toward extraordinary results will be built above all else on faith. It’s only when you have faith in your purpose and priorities that you’ll seek out your ONE thing.

Faith ultimately leads to action.

Live a life of no regrets.

Five most common themes of the dying:

  1. I wish that I’d let myself be happier._ → Too late they realized that happiness is a choice.
  2. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends._ → too often they failed to give them the time and effort they deserved.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings._ → too frequently shut mouths and feelings kept inside weighed too heavy to handle.
  4. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard._ → too much time spent making a living over building a life caused too much regret.
  5. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me._ → The number one regret is half-filled dreams and unfulfilled hopes.

→ Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made.

What’s the ONE thing I can do:

  • this week to discover or affirm my life purpose?
  • in 90 days to get in the physical shape I want?
  • today to strengthen my spiritual faith?
  • to find time to practice the guitar for 20 minutes a day? Knock 5 strokes off my golf game in 90 days? Learn to paint in six months?

What’s the ONE thing we can do:

  • this week to improve our marriage?
  • every week to spend more quality family time together?
  • tonight to support our kid’s schoolwork?
  • to make our next vacation the best ever? Next Christmas? Thanksgiving?

What’s the ONE thing I can do:

  • today to complete my current project ahead of schedule?
  • this month to produce better work?
  • before my next review to get the raise I want?
  • everyday to finish my work and still get home on time?

What’s the ONE thing we can do:

  • accomplish in this meeting and end early? (in any meeting)
  • I can do in the next six months find and develop incredible talent? (in building your team)
  • right now to accomplish our goals ahead of schedule and under budget? (planning future)
  • in the next 90 days to create a ONE thing culture? (management or highest company level)

What’s the ONE thing we can do:

  • improve our worship experience?
  • double our mission outreach success?
  • max out attendance?
  • achieve financial goals?

What’s the ONE thing we can do:

  • to improve our sense of community?
  • help the homebound?
  • double our volunteerism?
  • double voter turnout?

To ignite your life you must focus on ONE thing long enough for it to catch fire.

If you try to do everything, you would wind up with nothing. If you try to do just ONE thing, the right ONE thing, you could wind up with everything you ever wanted.

Close your eyes and imagine your life as big as it can possibly be. As big as you have ever dared to dream, and then some. Now open your eyes. Whatever you can see, you have the capacity to move forward. And when you do, you’ll be living the biggest life you can possibly live.

→ President of South Korea.

Write down your current income. Then multiply it by a number: 2, 4, 10; it doesn’t matter. Write down the new number. Looking at it and ignoring whether you’re frightened or excited, ask yourself: ‘Will my current actions get me to this number in the next five years?’ If they will, then keep doubling the number until they won’t. If you then make your actions match your answer, you’ll be living large.