Book Review: The One Thing (The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results) by Gary Keller | Stephen Diagram

The One Thing (The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results) by Gary Keller

You want to do a lot of things. You want to improve at everything. You want to cook breakfast, go to the gym, go to school, go to work, cook lunch, meditate for an hour, read a book, go back to gym, cook dinner, then work on your online blog.. You want to do all these things but only two things can end up happenings:

BUY The One Thing (The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results) by Gary Keller The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

  1. You can’t do them all.
  2. You do them all, but you’re average at best for all of them.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

  • No one who was average ever truly succeeded at creating extraordinary results.
  • You need to forget about achieving balance.
  • All successful people have that “one thing” that they’re great at.

Mozart is only known for his music. When you think Mozart, you think about an exceptionally talented and well trained classic pianist. His piano work is what sets him apart.

LeBron James is only known for playing basketball. When you think Lebron James, you think about the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Miami Heat. His work on the basketball court is what sets him apart.

Your goal is to find what sets you apart from the rest, and train three to four hours a day for 5-10 years until you achieve mastery; it is that simple. Choose what you love, choose what you’re good at, and practice.


You can’t be extraordinary and live a balanced life.

Multi-tasking is a lie; you cannot do it. Forget it. There’s no need to achieve all of these things. Accept the chaos.

What you need to do is find success through your one thing, then make money doing it. What you’re going to do next is purchase leverage. Today we take leverage for granted.

  • Do you raise your own food?
  • Do you build your own house?
  • Do you engineer your own car?

By making money through our one passion, the one thing we become extraordinary at, we can pay others to organize our chaos. Acquiring more time to master your skills is the goal. Purchase more leverage.


A 15 minute distraction may take you 30 minutes to get back into a focused rhythm.

What can you do right now that will help fulfill your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals? Work on today’s domino. Establish one goal. We often say that we need to manage our priorities, but that’s completely wrong. You cannot have multiple priorities; that defeats the purpose of establish a priority. You cannot have two best friends.


Most importantly, find someone or some way to hold yourself accountable to your goals. There is not a professional athlete in the world who does not have a coach. There are no majorly successful musicians who failed to have mentors and tutors and teachers.

BUY The One Thing (The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results) by Gary Keller The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Gary Keller wrote: “Today we take leverage for granted.”

    That struck me as a profound truth. I see it — in retrogress — in my own life. Recently retired, we consolidated everything down to our 67-year-old cottage at the lake. We live in semi-remote splendour and while we are on the electrical grid, we heat with wood as much as we can and our plumbing is filtered water IN from the lake and sewage OUT on a tanker truck. We reside on the southern edge of the Boreal biome.

    We gave up a lot of our leveraged city conveniences. Instead, we are now, increasingly, the ‘organizers of our own chaos’ to piggy-back on that phrase. I’m not a plumber, but if I want to deal with the consequences of my morning coffee, I must be able to unplug a frozen sewer pipe! (The outdoor biffy is unwelcoming at -22° C!)

    I have dedicated myself to fiction and seek a simple life to kindle that pursuit. The trouble is, my so-called simple life sometimes impinges on my time – unintentional opposing purposes. When I’m out in full yodel-mode: chopping wood, fixing our ageing infrastructure, gardening, shovelling snow, or catching fish (protein we need we need to eat – not photograph and throw back), I ain’t writing.

    Still, I find great inspiration in many of the quotidian duties I can no longer remedy with a phone call. My skinned knuckles and communing with nature inform my imagination and give my characters some hard-earned dirt under the fingernails. Therefore, while I don’t completely disagree with author Keller’s premise, I see that there may be another way to excel at one thing and that is to be forced to value that one thing above all others and, in my case, to jealously defend writing as my pinnacle activity, despite my many, unavoidable distractions; “Come quickly, there’s a deer eating the lettuce and the roof is leaking!”

    Anyway, today is a great day to write, so off I go. – mjt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mitchell, thanks for your input. I agree with you, that we should find some enjoyment from being able to remedy the chaos with our own hands. Everyone has to find their balance of leverage. Sometimes we wash a couple articles of clothing by hand because we have the time. Sometimes we dump the entire load in the washing machine. There’s benefits to both!

      Liked by 1 person

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