Review of “The One Thing”

Review of “The One Thing”


Arrived early to George Bush airport to catch my flight towards Denver, I decided to spend some time in a bookstore and search for something good to read. One book with the catchy title “The One Thing” had an interesting opening chapter, so I decided to purchase it with the hope that the rest of the book will be as interesting.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed. The book was simple to read, concise and straight to the point- I finished it comfortably in just four days. It’s centered around the concept of “The One Thing” as a necessary driver for success. I find most of the advice given by the author reasonable, but I think the motivating examples can be made more convincing. Below are some take-aways:

  1. Extraordinary results come from focusing on one thing at a time. The ability of human beings to multi-task is highly overrated and can even be counter-productive. For example, multi-tasking always involves task-switching time which people often underestimate.
  2. It’s a big fallacy to think that everything matters equally. There can only be one priority at any given time. The word “priority” somehow gets diluted when it comes in plural form.
  3. The majority of what we want comes from the minority of what we do. This is known as the 80/20 rule or also Pareto’s principle. It’s a true law of nature which shouldn’t be discounted when building a to-do list.
  4. Will-power isn’t always on will-call, it has a limited battery life. The more we use our mind, the less energy we have to accomplish our goal. Hence, the priority needs to be addressed when willpower is at its peak.
  5. To keep the right direction towards the one thing, it helps to ask the focusing question: “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
  6. Make a series of incremental goals towards a bigger vision. The farther away a reward is in the future, the smaller the immediate motivation to achieve it.
  7. Time-blocking is  a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done.
  8. Resting is as important as working. Seek mastery in accomplishing your one thing. Don’t stop at the ceiling of your natural abilities but constantly work towards improving them. And more importantly, know that success in something requires not only doing the best you can do at it, but also doing it the best it can be done.
  9. When you say “yes” to something, it is important to understand what you say “no” to. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try. A request must be connected to your one thing to accept it.

And some citations:

“Be like a postage stamp- stick to one thing until you get there”- Josh Billings

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“To do two things at once is to do neither.”- Publilius Syrus.

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