The One Thing By Gary Keller Book Summary

When Arthur Guinness started his first brewery, he obviously had bigger plans than just making a few barrels of beer. He signed a year lease on the building for 9,000 years. In the same way, when J.K. Rowling gave birth to the idea of Harry Potter, she foresaw seven books about the wizard before starting the first chapter.

Both these people became extraordinarily successful, and this was because they weren’t afraid of thinking big. They started out with a big vision of success before beginning their work. It’s hard to think they would achieve success if they thought small at the beginning.

But for some people, the idea of big dreams is daunting and has many negative repercussions like feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. These negative feelings stop people from dreaming big.

When we don’t think big and let these negative thoughts control us, our brains shrink and we lower our goals. We limit the trajectory of our achievements and resort to mediocrity.

Imagine how slow the progress of science would have been if someone hadn’t envisioned of big possibilities. Like how humans can now breathe underwater, fly airplanes, or explore space. We look at how history is telling us how we’ve done a very poor job in setting limits for ourselves, that’s why we shouldn’t let the limits we set ourselves stop us from achieving big.

Success demands action, and action demands thought. But to achieve great results, our actions need to be based on big thinking at the very start.

You Limit Your Opportunities When You Don’t Think Big

A lot of people sometimes make to-do lists to track their tasks. But when you make one, how do you know which task to do first?

Do you begin with the task that demands the most time, or do you check off smaller tasks first? Maybe you feel like doing them in the order you wrote them in?

These suggestions don’t acknowledge a basic truth: the tasks listed are not equally important.

The truth is, it’s likely that only some of the tasks will make a profound impact, which is why they should have the highest priority.

This is the conclusion reached by a pioneer in quality-control management, Joseph M. Juran. While working at General Motors, he found that most car defects were from just a couple of production flaws. It became clear that solving the flaws was the highest priority.

Juran called his discovery the Pareto Principle from Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, who developed a model for income distribution in 19th century Italy. In his model, Pareto showed that only 20% of people owned 80% of land. This matched his findings that 20% of flaws resulted to 80% of the defects.

This 80/20 observation, Juran realized, may actually be a universal law. Only 20% of your work inputs result to 80% of your outputs or results.

It’s clear then: not all of the tasks in your to-do list are equally important. Only a small number will add to your success. You must put priority on tasks that will affect your results the most.

Prioritize Your Tasks As They Are Not Equally Important

When you ask the focus question, you can prioritize better and create action steps to achieve your goals.

Mark Twain is known for saying that the secret to getting ahead is to get started. To get started you must break complex tasks into small tasks, and start on the first one.

This is awesome advice, but identifying where you’re heading and what task to do first is difficult. This problem is where asking the focus question helps. This question must help you know where you’re going and how to start on your journey.

What’s one thing I’m capable of and by so doing, everything will become unnecessary or easy?

What’s Next?

Now that you know what the One Thing book is all about, let’s take a deep dive into the biggest key insights and how you can apply them to get the results you truly want in your life.

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