The One Thing You Need to Read Right Now

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

This book is meant to plant this question in your mind and hence, make it a part of every choice you make. The ONE thing is an extreme version of the 80/20 rule, but here Gary asks you to narrow your focus from 20% to the ONE most important Thing.

If you are good at time management, delegation, and finishing off what you start, you can give this book a pass (or breeze through it). But if you are like me, and have a habit of committing to too many things and not completing any, this book is the one thing you should read right now!

My notes/highlights

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

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

“Things which matter the most must never be at the mercy of things which matter the least” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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

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.

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

Multitasking is about multiple tasks alternatively sharing one resource (the CPU), but in time the context was flipped and it became interpreted to mean multiple tasks being done simultaneously by one resource (a person).

It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.

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

Be a person of powerful habits and use selected discipline to develop them.

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.

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

Do what matters most first each day when your will power is strongest.

The term “work-life balance” wasn’t coined until the mid-1980s when more than half of all married women joined the workforce. To paraphrase Ralph E. Gomory’s preface in the 2005 book Being Together, Working Apart: Dual-Career Families and the Work-Life Balance, we went from a family unit with a breadwinner and a homemaker to one with two breadwinners and no homemaker.

Magic happens at the extremes.

When you gamble with your time, you may be placing a bet you can’t cover.

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.

Big is a placeholder for what you might call a leap of possibility. It’s the office intern visualising the boardroom, the penniless immigrant imagining a business revolution. It’s about bold ideas that might threaten your comfort zones but simultaneously reflect your greatest opportunities. Believing in big frees you to ask different questions, follow different paths, and try new things. This opens the doors to possibilities that until now only lived inside you.

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

If you learn to do something one way, and with one set of relationships, that may work fine until you want to achieve more. It’s then that you’ll discover that you’ve created an artificial ceiling of achievement for yourself that may be too hard to break through.

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

“The rung of the 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

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.

The Big-Picture Question: “What’s my ONE Thing?”

The Small-Focus Question: “What’s my ONE Thing right now?”

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

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

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” –George Bernard Shaw

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

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?

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

“Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil….It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.” –Margarita Tartakovsky

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

Block an hour each week to review your annual and monthly goals.

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

When you see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable.

The four thieves of productivity:

  1. Inability to Say “No”
  2. Fear of Chaos
  3. Poor Health Habits
  4. Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals

When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you’re saying no to.

When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up.

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then, is empty desk a sign?” –Albert Einstein

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

A life worth living might be measured in many ways, but the one way that stands above all others is living a life of no regrets.


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