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Executive Leadership Coaching

2 minute read

5 Productivity Takeaways from Gary Keller’s “The ONE Thing”

Mar 6, 2019

Written by: Shawn Sweeney

If you could do just one thing to boost your productivity exponentially, would you? Of course you would! The challenge is knowing what that one thing is. Until now. In his bestselling book “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,” Gary Keller walks us through how to find focus for our most important work, leading to more productivity, more satisfaction—and more results.

As the very first chapter tell us: “The ONE Thing is the best approach to getting what you want.” And your ONE Thing is…? That’s what you have to figure out—after you sort through the six lies standing between you and success. Don’t worry, “The ONE Thing” will steer you in the right direction and help you put those lies to bed once and for all.

The one thing that most resonated with me about “The ONE Thing” is the book’s Big Ideas. The Big Ideas are bite-sized actions that map out the path to discovering and living our own ONE Thing. Here are the 5 most impactful productivity takeaways from the book’s Big Ideas—ideas we all can put into practice every day, starting today:


Shift your thinking. Rather than going big, go small. It’s not about going all-out, it’s about being all-in. “Allow what matters most to drive your day,” the book advises, because “doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.” When put it into practice, it revolutionizes how you invest your time.


Take the idea of investing your time in the most important thing just one step further and do what matters most first each day. Why? It’s about leveraging your willpower when it’s at its strongest, and it’s critical to your success. “You will need your willpower at full strength to ensure that when you’re doing the right thing, you don't let anything distract you or steer you away from it.” The early bird gets the worm, right?


If you’re not focused, you’ll never maximize your productivity or your effectiveness—or deliver your best results. The book cautions that multitasking is a lie and “in the world of results it will fail you every time.” So tighten up and give what matters most in the moment the undivided attention it deserves.


Fail your way to success! Robert F. Kennedy famously said “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” And it’s true. Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s part of success. Did you know James Dyson created 5,126 vacuums before he hit on the one that became a household name? “Adopt a growth mindset and don’t be afraid of where it can take you,” the book encourages. Failure fuels success. It’s the only way to learn, grow, improve, and innovate.


“The ONE Thing” tells us we don’t need more discipline in our lives to achieve more, “we just need to direct and manage it a little better.” Good news: You’re not a superhero, and you don’t have to be one. You can’t successfully develop more than one new habit at a time. So much like eating that elephant one bite at a time, be intentional in fully developing one new habit before you move on to the next. When you’re looking to make changes to impact your productivity, that takes a bit of the pressure off, doesn’t it? Just take it one step at a time.

If you haven’t yet read “The ONE Thing,” I highly recommend you pick it up or download it. Today! If you have read it, I have one thing to ask you: What’s your ONE Thing?

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