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3 Coolest Ideas from The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan

It’s one of the most beautiful seasons of the year with the warmth of the festival spreading positivity across the world. Everywhere we go, we see trees all decked up and carols infusing the spirit of Christmas. Wishing you peace, joy, and unconditional love this Christmas and always!

As 2022 draws to a close, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the events of the past twelve months. One of the coolest ways that I found really beneficial personally is Journaling. This can be a powerful tool for self-discovery, introspection and personal growth. As I flip back the pages of my blogs, I feel a sense of achievement to complete 28 books this year and sincerely implementing those learnings to improve myself. Also, I see my daughter, Anaisha growing more, questioning more, ofcourse breaking things much more but most of all asking me to tell her a story.

I remember finding out about personal development, and I thought it was just the greatest thing! We all have opportunities to improve ourselves to become a better version of ourselves! However, I ran into trouble that almost everyone going through the same journey runs into, which is basically to do multiple things at once. Essentially trying to improve at everything! For instance, starting tomorrow you are going to wake up early, mediate for an hour, exercise for an hour, go to work and as soon as that is done, learn how to play guitar after work since you always wanted to play it and once you are done with that you are going to work on your different business ideas. Wow! That sounds so good because when you make such plan I am sure you are excited about it. However, in reality there are two major outcomes of this dream plan of yours

  1. In the first and most likely scenario, it is possible you won’t be able to actually do all the things you planned. I am sure you may have great willpower. You know, willpower, it’s like a battery my friend, it gets drained by the end of the day! So, when you begin your morning trying to be the Dalai Lama it might be possible that you won’t be sitting to work on your business ideas by end of the day. This is because the battery of willpower is empty by then!

  2. The second option, which is highly unlikely, let’s talk about a hypothetical situation where you somehow manage and continuously get through all those things. Well, in this unlikely situation the best outcome is that you still end up being average at everything.

Today we are going over the 3 coolest ideas from One Thing, the surprisingly simple truth behind the extraordinary result by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. I strongly believe it is one of the great books for business and personal development.

We all are overstimulated in this digital world! We get notifications on our phone all the time popping out from 10 different applications. In the morning we roll out of our bed and the first thing we do is check our emails, at least that’s true for my husband! The first thing he does in the morning is checking all his emails and then comes the Good Morning message! Guilty as charged, earlier I used to check my LinkedIn and Instagram notifications, however now Anaisha (my daughter) takes priority over everything! My parents who watch the news on the TV are also constantly answering pings in the family WhatsApp groups at the same time. I guess something similar happens to you too! Indeed, we all are distracted and juggle so many things together, however in reality we aren’t doing things as well as we could have!

That is what I like about this book and why I made an effort to bring it to you because this book puts the science and research behind why focusing on one thing is more beneficial than trying to do everything kind of halfheartedly.

About the Author – Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Gary Keller is the founder of the largest real estate company in the United States. Keller Williams is one of the best-selling authors and a successful business coach. Over the year he has learned to achieve success in a rather unconventional way. You see after college Gary got into the real estate industry and was hell-bent on being the best in his field. He bought into the philosophy that if you are going to succeed you need to juggle many things and take on many responsibilities. (I am sure many of us believe in this same philosophy!) Each morning he would listen to an inspirational theme song just to pump himself up to get ready for the torrent of demands that would come his way. Gary ended up dissipating his energy so far and stretching his attention so thin that he eventually burned out. Gary once said it got him success as well as got him sick. Eventually, it got him sick of success! At that point in his career, he decided to try a different approach by focusing on fewer things. He says “I challenged the axioms of success and guess what, I became more successful than I ever dreamed possible and felt better than I had ever felt in my life.” He realized that people achieve success despite doing many things and not because they do many things.

The essence of the book – The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

As I read through the chapter trying to understand how focusing on less can help you achieve more, I was able to relate to one of the concepts I learned in my Operation class in MBA. While studying software management author Gerald Weinberg, who had researched several software programmers, over a decade and discovered that a significant percentage of programmers’ productivity seemingly vanished when they focused on more than one project during the day. The more number of project they took on the more time seemed to vanish and energy was completely lost performing non-productivity activities. Gerald describes a loss in productivity because of context switching between multiple tasks. Here is a simple exercise to help you understand the side effects of context switching. 

Ok Then, let’s do this activity together, and see how fast you can count from 1 to 5 -> 1,2,3,4,5 that took approximately one second right? Now let’s do with the list of the alphabets from A to E -> A,B,C,D,E it took the amount of time

Now try to alternate between counting numbers and sequencing letters.

A1, B2, C3, D4, E5. Whoa! That took around 3 seconds for me; however, I had this done activity twice before penning it down for you. By alternating my focus to complete both tasks, it took twice as long as doing each task independently. I know, you must be thinking why is that

Both the tasks are super easy and familiar to me then why is there a significant drop in my performance? Well this book, One Thing describes this drop in performance since there is extra time needed to switch our focus which adds on because we need time to make the decision to switch and we need to remember where we left off before we switched. Moreover, we also need to recall the rules of executing a particular task in the case of software programmers if a programmer needed to solve problems throughout the day on multiple projects he or she was forced to spend mental processing power to figure out where they left off and what they needed to do within the constraints of that particular project. Whenever we have more than one priority at one project throughout the day, we experience the energy-depleting, productivity destruction that substantially affects our performance.

In order to reduce switching costs throughout the day, the book recommends we need to get good at asking the right questions. When we are tempted to focus on more than one priority at a time ask yourself the question of “Why”.

Three Coolest Ideas from The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Essentially, the book doesn’t force you to do one thing but provides you logic and rationale that we will able to get more done by focusing on one thing. Also, you will still have time to do everything else if you use some of the principles in the book. I read this book twice to present you with 3 coolest ideas from this book

Idea 1: The Domino Effect

Dominos are little two-inch blocks. These blocks have the ability to knock over another domino that’s up to 50% larger than that 2-inch block. So, you could stack a 4-inch domino and then a 6-inch, and so on. If you do this over and over again by the 23rd domino you are knocking over Eiffel Tower, by the 31st it’s Mt. Everest and by the 57th you are to the Moon. These little dominoes are kind of like our habits in life. Our choices and habits are just like dominoes and if we get momentum, we can knock over big things. But we have to start small!


The primary concept of the book is that if you look at anybody who has achieved success at any level and trace it back, you will see that all of them achieved it by focusing on One Thing. For example, Google what there’s one thing Search, Starbucks what’s there one thing Coffee. For KFC it’s Chicken and for Apple well it’s innovation and bringing changes in their products. For Michael Philips is swimming, for Tiger Woods it’s Golf and the list can go on!

If you think about it Tiger Woods never said that he wants to be a swimmer, a golfer, and a basketball player. He said all I am going to do from day one is to focus on golf. He is number 1 in the world. So how do we apply this in our life, I think the take-home message is that don’t feel bad if you are spending all this time focusing on one aspect.  Maybe you are 17 and you love cricket and you want to do that full-time. Well, don’t feel bad that you aren’t good at any of the other subjects because your one thing is cricket. I would like to quote from the book that says, “If you try and catch two rabbits you won’t catch either” so the biggest concept of this book is to focus your energy on One Thing. I know it is much easier said than done. I spread myself really thin, being a new mom, I am constantly on my toes, cooking something for my family in the kitchen as well as managing some time to contribute back to my connections. Hence, this book was bittersweet for me much like yourself. I am sure because we have so many different interests right? So don’t take One Thing as gospel but I guess the takeaway message is that success leaves clues, look at the most successful people the most successful companies and they had a focus around One Thing.

Idea 3: Rubber Or Glass

In the game of life, we are juggling many balls like work, family, health, friends, and spirit. We aspire to be multitaskers as we keep all of them in the air. We give importance to each equally making it difficult to focus on either one. Eventually, there comes a time when we realize that work is actually a rubber ball. If you even drop it, it will bounce back. However, the other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these it will be irrevocably nicked, marked, damaged, and can even be shattered. Therefore, we must understand and strive to create balance in our life. It is all about prioritizing and if we don’t prioritize then we might not get back a few things in our life.

So nudge yourself and think about the one time that you can do that can have the most impact on whatever it is you aspire to achieve. Let me know how you find the review and if you are interested I highly recommend this book!


Keller, G., & Papasan, J. (2012). The one thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. Austin, Tex: Bard Press.


Bibliophile Parul


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Stronger Together!

Hey there, I'm Parul, working in one of the Big 4s of consulting! 💼

By day, I'm decoding the business matrix, but by night, I transform into a book ninja, stealthily navigating the worlds crafted by the greatest authors📚✨


What's the secret sauce to my consulting wizardry, you ask? It's the lessons learned from the pages of both leadership meetings, strategies and bestselling novels 😉


I'm not just crunching numbers; I'm crunching captivating narratives 💖

Buckle up for insights that transcend industries and a blog where business acumen meets the magic of storytelling


#ConsultantLife #BusinessAndBooks 🌟

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