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Book Review: The One Thing

February 21, 2022

“The One Thing” makes an ambitious promise: That by reading it and following its advice, you would achieve extraordinary results in every area of your life – work, personal, family and spiritual.

It’s a business/self-help book. Of course it makes that promise, they all do. Unlike many books I’ve read on the subject, “The One Thing” delivers.

You probably think that’s impossible. (BTW, this is a review, not a sales pitch, although they may seem similar.) After all, if I’m a writer and you’re an IT guy how is one book going to help both of us achieve extraordinary results in different businesses? If I’m Christian and your Jewish, how will the same advice help both of us achieve extraordinary results in such different religions?

Gary Keller, doesn’t lay out a program that will lead from step one through step twenty-one and then help you achieve your results. Basically, it boils it down to a single question:

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

That’s it.

I hear you, “If it’s that simple why does it take 225 pages to present it?

The rest of those pages are doing two important (but slightly less extraordinary) things. The first third of the book is spent debunking the lies we tell ourselves that sap our energy and derail our productivity. They are:

  • Everything Matters Equally
  • Multitasking
  • A Disciplined Life
  • Willpower is Always on Will-Call
  • A Balanced Life
  • Big is Bad

Some of these were easy to accept, others didn’t resonate as much with me. Keller’s main point was that we need to get out of our own way. And he gives personal examples on how to avoid sabotaging our own success.

The final third of the book is how to put the One Thing into practice.

The middle section, like the contents of a sandwich is the good stuff. It’s not enough that Keller explains the question. He applies it to EVERYTHING.

  • What’s the ONE Thing I can do in my job such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
  • What’s the ONE Thing I can do in my marriage such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
  • What’s the ONE Thing I can do in my spirituality such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

He explains how the ONE Thing can applied to every aspect of our lives. And that’s why this book can be equally useful to a Jew, or a Mormon, or a Program Manager, or a Writer, or you.

What I Liked

I liked the message, of course. It was something I could apply immediately. And I didn’t have to reorder my entire life. I could start with one thing. I also like his “voice.” The book reads a lot like a conversation. Often authors will try to hide “the thing” that is their thing. One popular book about a certain number of concepts, doesnt’ share the first concept until page 100. The ONE Thing strikes a good balance of addressing the concepts in a structured order, but still not making the reader feel cheated.

What I Didn’t

Keller is a wealthy person. I know that because he spents time telling us about it. And he credits the ONE Thing with helping him achieve his riches. It comes across a little like a money making scheme. “Do this thing and you too can get rich.” But, it’s a minor issue.

What It Means To You

The ONE Thing will either cause you to change your habits or it will make you very uncomfortable as you see how you could improve but choose not to. The book will not just tell you that you need to focus it will actually help you do it. I recommend it highly.

My Rating

Four out of Four Stars

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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