skip to Main Content

The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

The One Thing By Gary Keller With Jay Papasan

If you are familiar with my blog you will know I spend a lot of time reading books about personal development and success. I am obsessed with understanding how others achieve extraordinary results in their life and business. So when I came across The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, I was instantly drawn to the subtitle The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results.


It doesn’t take long to find out what the one thing is. Very early on the one thing is revealed as a narrow focus – “extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow your can make your focus”.

In Chapter 2, the concept of THE DOMINO EFFECT is introduced. In short, a domino is able to knock down another domino that is 50% larger. Whilst one domino knocking over another bit not seem life-changing, it is when you put a row of dominos together. Starting with just a 2-inch domino, and increasing the size of a domino by 50% each time, the 23rd domino could be the height of the Eiffel Tower. This story is used to exemplify that “extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous”. All you have to do is to work out how to create “a domino effect in your life”.

The One Thing states “The problem is we tend to act on what we believe even when what we believe isn’t anything we should”. Our beliefs play a major role in our success. Unfortunately, many of us have beliefs that aren’t true, but believe them to be true. In order to embrace THE ONE THING you need to address the six lies that lie between you and success. Those lies are:

  1. Everything Matters Equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A Disciplined Life
  4. Willpower Is Always on Will-Call
  5. A Balanced Life
  6. Big Is Bad

Once you have learnt that the above “truths” are in fact lies, then you can focus on the truth, which according to Gary Keller is “that success comes down to this: being appropriate in the moments of your life”.

Through the book, you learn that THE ONE THING is actually multiple things. For example, “Your big ONE Thing is your purpose and your small ONE Thing is the priority you take action on to achieve it”. Gary just uses the term THE ONE THING to mean your focus. Whilst having a big ONE Thing, having a purpose, is important it is also important to be able to prioritise.

It is common when doing a goal setting exercise to set a long-term goal and then work backwards and Gary encourages readers to do this exercise. He guides you from thinking about your ‘SOMEDAY GOAL’ and then work backwards. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure your goals are all connected – “Connect today to all of your tomorrows”. To achieve extraordinary results in your life you have to work out the sequential steps you need to take and you have to ensure that everything you are doing is helping to help your future goals.

“The most successful people are the most productive people”

There is a lot written about productivity and the steps you can take to ensure that you are maximising success. It can come across a little excessive, for example, Gary suggests that you spend “4 hours a day for your ONE Thing”. Now for the average person this may seem a lot, but this isn’t a book for those wanting to live an average life. This is about creating an extraordinary life.



Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I am a big fan of The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and there are many similarities around the ideas of focusing on continuous action and building momentum. However, the domino effect is a great picture to imagine in your head and ensure that you are focusing on taking the continuous steps that will build your strength and impact.

“Actions build on action. Habits build on habits. Success builds on success”.

Also, it is very achievable idea. Anyone can focus on ONE Thing. It makes success accessible to everyone if you just ask the right questions and they can stay focused.

I read The One Thing as part of PropelHer’s Book Club for Ambitious Women. PropelHer’s Book Club is a non-fiction book club that meet in Covent Garden, London, as well as meeting online. Want to join a community of ambitious women who read excellent books to support personal development and professional success? Come join PropelHer’s Book Club.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below and why not buy a copy of The One Thing for yourself?

Charelle Griffith

Charelle is book-loving Marketer, Success Coach and Founder of PropelHer. Charelle is passionate about personal development and blogs about non-fiction books. She also runs PropelHer's Book Club - a non-fiction book club for ambitious women.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top