Books and Me: The One Thing

Book Title: The One Thing

Author: Gary Keller and Jay Papasan The One Thing Book Cover

Building focus is a theme that has always attracted my attention. In recent times, I have been working hard on the power of narrowing down initiatives as an approach to enhancing focus. So, when I found this little book during one of my weekly trips to the local book store, I naturally picked it up and was excited at the subject under consideration. The moment I open the book to scan a few pages, I promptly put the book back on the shelf to pick a second copy. To my surprise, there were pencil marks under sentences across pages. I was surprised! Why would multiple copies of a new book have pencil marks in them? On closer examination, I found that it was a new feature used by the authors and the publisher to highlight what they consider important. I must congratulate wholeheartedly the publishers John Murray for the lovely production of the book. A well made book adds tremendous incremental joy to the reading. With a well made book in my hand on a topic that was close to my heart I read it while making loads of notes.

The book dives right into the subject with a quote that captures the essence of the subject: “If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one” – Russian Proverb

There are innumerable quotations as powerful as the above and more, sprinkled all across the book. The book builds a strong case to narrowing down our focus to one thing and using it as the path to achieve extraordinary success.  This goes right against the popular philosophy of “doing more to achieve more”. The authors use Part I of the book to showcase how the widely held belief is a myth. They shatter what are used as reasons supporting the “doing more achieve more” philosophy with both research back references as well as practice oriented experiences.

The poet J. B. Rittenhouse’s poem, “My wage” was a brilliant way to set the context for Part II of the book which houses the proposed simple path to productivity. While my thoughts at the philosophical level about balancing different facets of life by choosing one thing across each of them are still under reflection, I do not subscribe to the authors views, though a large part of the approach seems practical. The “productivity-priority- purpose” pyramid provides an interesting basis for discussions around unblocking the possibilities within an individual. Time blocking is a powerful concept that goes hand in hand with the approach of choosing one big thing in life. It seems to have worked for a lot of successful people from Stephen King to Peter Drucker. Protecting the time block should be done at any cost to achieve extraordinary results.

The three suggested commitments that one who wants to achieve success in life using the one thing approach should attempt are: adopting the mindset of seeking mastery, constantly finding the best ways of doing things and holding oneself accountable to doing everything to achieve the one thing.

This handy, well made volume is an interesting read that provides big questions while also suggesting quick tips for anyone seeking to live a successful life. You can also read and listen to more about the book and the authors at:


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