The book here is called The ONE Thing by Gary Keller of Keller Williams and Jay Papasan. It’s a book all about the power of focus and the power of the domino effect. I’ll actually reference my copy here a couple of times here because it’s just been such a huge change for me helping me understand, stay focused and understand, and be thinking critically about the effects of how I’m spending my time.
That’s what the book is about, the power of focus and the power of the Domino Effect, which I’d like to share with you briefly. The key to The ONE Thing is that you want to be conscientiously choosing actions that will have the biggest effect in the long run, thinking about what the next domino is and leverage your choices as well as your energy111.
This book has been such an influence on my life that there are three or four books I give away and this is one of them. If you would like a copy of this book just to put on your bookshelf, I would encourage you to read it. I give this book away all the time because it is really really for anyone, but especially for a business owner.
Unlike Profit First, which I’ve talked about previously, is really for a business owner. But this book can be applied by anyone to their job or career. I’d be happy to send you a copy for free. It’s made that much of an impact on my life that I want to give it away to other people. I believe that if I give away a few copies of this book, it will some of the people who read it. That makes me happy.
Send me your mailing address and I will send you a copy. If you ask, I can send you a free copy at audible.com instead. Audible is great for listening while you drive to work, or while you drive to a project, or while exercising. Whatever you’re doing, audible.com is great for that. I consumed this book that way, but I also have several paper copies available. Let me know, and I’ll ship one right to your doorstep.
The Six Lies
I was talking about the six lies, and I’m not going to cover all of them, just a couple that really stood out to me.
Number one: everything matters equally. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan talk about this in reflection to the 80/20 rule as we know it, or Pareto’s Principle, which is that it’s a law of nature that 20% of the wealthiest people own 80% of the land. They give a various other examples of how that’s generally true and the percentages might change a little bit, but generally 20% of your effort is yielding 80% of your results. Also, 20% of your customers are yielding the largest portion of your profit and 20% of your ideas will yield the largest growth or expansion or whatever it might be.
So you want to be focusing on identifying that 20%. What I really loved about this is the way they applied it to your to-do list. If you are like me, your to-do list is a mile long and those are just the things I wrote down.
I actually have different kinds of to-do lists. I have to-do lists for leads, some for operations, some for marketing. The principle here is that a to-do list doesn’t necessarily give you results. It’s usually driven by the first thing to come to mind was the first thing on the list. It’s not targeting at a goal.
You need to take your to-do list and turn it into a success list by applying the 80/20 rule. If I can only do half of these things, or in the case of the 80/20 rule, one out of these five things or two out of these 10 things, what are the ones that are going to yield me the most, the best results and take me the furthest? What are going to have the biggest impact?
That has been a huge lesson for me is taking my to-do list, turning it into a success list, and working harder and harder at saying no.
Another one of the lies is multi-tasking.
We’ve been taught in today’s society that a computer can multi-task, so should be able to do it too. But that’s just not true. It took a little bit of convincing me to believe this one. We can juggle, we can walk and talk and chew gum, and they explain why some of that works and it’s not really multi-tasking. But to really focus on something and to give it the attention it deserves, you aren’t.
If you were to think you’re “multitasking,” what you’re actually doing is “task-switching.” You’re actually losing time, energy and focus by switching and reloading the rules. I’m switching to this task, and so now I have to go back. Sometimes it’s just a little bit here and there, but it really adds up; sometimes it’s a lot. You can lose an entire day’s worth of progress because you have to re-orient yourself on a bigger project.
There are some interesting statistics in the book about how much time is lost in the average American office just by test switching, something like 30%. It’s absolutely crazy to think about. So, multi-tasking is a lie. Just stay focused on one thing at a time.
Life, Discipline, And Habits
Living a life of discipline is another lesson that I took from their six lies and how it’s not true. When we see people we perceive as “disciplined,” what we’re really seeing are people who have built a series of habits over time.
It does take time to build those habits, but as you build one, then elevate and build the next over time, those habits then then drive your success and you appear disciplined. In reality, you just need enough discipline to build the habit, and then automaticity takes over and it becomes automatic for you. And you just need a little bit here and there to stay focused and not lose the habit, but it’s much easier to maintain once it’s built.
The Myth Of Willpower
Number four also stuck out to me, and that was willpower.
We think things like:
“I can’t do a good job because I’m just not good enough”
“I don’t have character”
“I’m not determined enough”
“I can’t just seem to go back to work”
Some people may not have this problem, but they may have it more on the focusing end. That really spoke to me. It’s not necessarily a matter of being disciplined, it’s a matter of building the habits. And one of the challenges there is that willpower is not always on “will call” and we can’t always just will ourselves to do something.
The energy it takes to will yourself to do something depletes—based on your fitness, on what ate today, based on how tired you are. The authors talk about this as well as the importance of doing your one thing as early in the day as possible. That’s been really big for me, making the priority because that’s the thing that’s going to drive everything else forward. Then they talk a lot about balance, another lesson I took to heart. That the magic happens at the extremes, and that one of the lies is thinking we need to live a balanced life.
Balance And Counterbalance
I love the example they give that finally helped me understand. A ballerina who is posing lifeless in the air, “en pointe,” that she appears to be floating. But what’s actually happening is this: if you look down at her foot, it’s vibrating back and forth very quickly, maintaining the illusion of balance.
Realize that you’re never fully in balance, you’re always pushing back and forth and counterbalancing. So the question is how far should you wobble, for lack of a better word. How far should you go before you counterbalance back? Their basic principle is that the magic happens at the extremes.
Go extreme at work, in your business, in your career. Go as far as you can without losing everything, but understand that some things are going to have to wait. Some things are so far down the list that they’re not going to get done. That’s , because you’re doing more important, more impactful things. At home, when you deal with fitness and family and mental health and finances, you need to counterbalance much more quickly. If you go to the extreme with your health, you’ll have major health issues and you may never recover, but work will always bounce back. So go as far to the extreme as you can, but do counterbalance.
The Bucket Lists
The second lesson I took from the idea of counterbalancing sort of balancing is separate things into two buckets. One is my “work bucket,” and the other is my “personal bucket.” Then look at each bucket completely separately.
This lesson took me a while, which is why I’m going into detail. About the seventh time through, I finally got it.
When I look at my work bucket, my business bucket, I want to go as far to one extreme as I can and then swing back and cover everything that’s still left. Then I go as far to the extreme for as long as I can and then swing back.
So you’re in work, you want to counterbalance slowly and go as far to the extremes as you can. In your personal life, you need to keep your health and your personal relationships all in balance and in balance against each other. You want to find ways to combine activities as well, but that’s a great lesson that I took.
I’ll leave the sixth lie for you to read in the book for yourself.
The Four Truths
The next thing discussed was the four truths. They start with one truth that I actually want you to read here, a poem from the book.
The poem is called My Wage by JB Rittenhouse, and it really just resonated with me.
That’s a big lesson here, and it leads to, how do you come up with uncommon questions that take you to uncommon answers? Their answer is the Focusing Question. The ONE Thing is centered around this Focusing Question, because it guides you to an uncommon approach to living your life.
The question is, “What’s The ONE Thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” I ask this question of everything important in my life like the book guides you to ask. Certainly on the personal side, but very frequently on the business side. I have it actually the wall as a little reminder for myself.
But, “What’s The ONE Thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary?” That’s how strongly that question impacts me and influences me. So when it comes to growing my business, and growing myself as a business owner, I ask that question all the time.
They also talk about the success habit, which is the first habit that you should start developing. Unless you have one that you know will have a more direct impact on you, such as your physical health or your financial state. For that I’ll reference you to Profit First.
So that’s the habit that I’ve been developing over the last two years since I read the book. This question is the path to great answers. They go into additional things like purpose leading to priority and leading to productivity. If you want to achieve extraordinary results, know your purpose. Your purpose drives your priority, which you discover these by asking yourself The ONE Thing. That then leads to productivity.
Starting On Your Own Path
Again, the name of the book I’ve discussed is called The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. I highly recommend this book. It’s available on Amazon and Audible, if you like audio books.
I also love this cover that they did with a domino. The ONE Thing is all about lining up your first domino and knocking it over so that it makes it easier to knock over the next domino. It shows you how that multiplies, every domino a little bigger, a little more impactful than the last. And asking yourself the “Focusing Question” helps you figure out which domino to start working on this month, today. So that’s why I love The ONE Thing, and why I highly recommend anyone who wants to succeed in their life or make changes in their career, that you check this book out and see if it resonates with you like it resonates with me.
That’s a very challenging question that I consider several times a year. With what I have, my current goal in mind, I then set a five-year goal. And I do that by asking the Focusing Question and the just modify it slightly. They walk you through this in the book. But I think it helps to understand that, so the question becomes, “What’s The ONE Thing I could do in the next five years to reach, that would take me towards my someday goal, such that by doing it, everything else would become easier and unnecessary?” And for me that’s building my business. I have a specific goal for that. Then I do that with my one-year goal. In order to achieve my five-year goal, what’s The ONE Thing I can do this year, such that by doing it, everything else in achieving that five-year goal will become easier or unnecessary?
I think about this. I actually used their planner to help refresh this and I reassess that. Then we go down to a month and I ask the whole thing, then we go back to a week. And so every week, I sit down and I say, “So in order to achieve my someday goal, and in order to achieve my five-year goal and my one-year goal and my one-month goal, what’s The ONE Thing I can do this week, such that by doing it, achieving all of those goals will become easier and or unnecessary?” As they teach, this helps you line your dominoes up so you know that you’re working on something that’s going to follow that 80/20 principle, and is going to knock over a domino that will make it easier to knock over the next domino.
Starting Early And Saying No
Another big lesson I take from them is everything does not matter equally and how that applies to our time. We only have so much time in the day. If you want to knock over that domino and get to the next level, you’ll have to do that early and do that first. This also means that you’re going to have to say no to other things. But really, the only way to achieve success is to learn what to say no to.
Sometimes it means saying no to things I want to do. But in order to get where I want to go, I have to. Many times it means saying no to myself, and I don’t mean that in the sense of denial. When it comes to health and fitness, that’s definitely an area that I fight in. But sometimes I want to take a good idea and execute it myself. And what I need to do is let go of the details.
Learning to communicate better and learning to hand things over is a domino that I’m working on, that’s a habit that I’m working on right now. And every week I have a reset: what’s my goal for this week, to keep me on track for my one-month goal, to keep me on track from my one-year goal, keep me on track for my five-year goal, keep me on track for my someday goal? What’s one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary?
So I hope that helps. I hope you took a little bit from this that you can apply to your life. Ask yourself that Focusing Question every week, every month, every day, at the beginning of every day and let me know if you want a free copy of the book. I will be more than happy to send it to you.