The One Thing, by Garry Keller – Book Review
The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results.
A book review by Kirill Borzov
In his book The One Thing, Gary Keller talks about the framework that helped him improve his business and achieve extraordinary results. His framework is very simple: just do The Most Important Thing right now and only do that thing.

The concept is easy to grasp but hard to follow. The framework describes those steps as follows:

  • Figure out the goal you want to achieve one day
  • Know think of the most important thing you must to do to achieve your goal in one year that makes everything easier and helps the pieces fall into place.
  • With that in mind, what thing you must do in the next 6 months that will get you much closer to the goal? How about 3 months, 1 month, 1 week…
  • And finally — what's the most important thing you can do today to get you closer to your goal. Ask this question everyday and do the thing every day to achieve your goals.
While the process is simple, you'll have to figure out "That One Thing" by yourself. Gary suggest coming with a list of ideas and picking the one you feel that will push everything forward and just do that thing.

He also suggest blocking the time for that one thing in your calendar, preferably ~4 hours every morning. Blocking is bigger than just booking, you need to fight and preserve that time for yourself and the One thing, and in cases you must do something else instead — reschedule the blocked time.

The One Thing
The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results
Creators calendar vs Manager Calendar. When working on the One Thing you are the Creator and not the manager
Gary explains that people will most likely understand your desire to focus on one thing and block specific time for that and within a period of a week will leave you be and work on your project without much distraction. The bosses will also be happy when your projects start producing noticeable results.

Doing Daily
The "doing one thing for 4 hours daily" fits very well into many life and success concepts. In the book you can find many examples of successful people in business, sports, music and so on. Basically, if you do something every day and you give all your attention to that thing then you become a professional in that field.

If you run every day for 4 hours — you become a professional runner in a few weeks. Play 10 000 hours on piano/violine/guitar before the age of 20 — you're on your way to becoming worldwide famous musician. Make photos, cook, do marketing analysis, draw, whatever you like — if you dedicate enough time in your day, focus exclusively on that and do it with passion, then I doubt there's anything stopping you from achieving greatness
Eliud Kipchoge started running at the age of 16. And never stopped since. In 2019 he ran the Marathon in under 2 hours which was previously considered almost impossible
Saying No
There is a part in the book where the author explains that saying No to people is very important in case you really want to achieve your results. This part resonates the most with me — just look back within your last week of your life, how many meetings you were pulled in that didn't bring you anything, small requests from your colleagues or manager, distracting small talks, phone calls, unimportant emails and so on.

There are plenty of ways that other can distract us from focusing on thing thing, constantly seeking our attention and help. Gary states that only saying no to those requests and people will allow you to find time to do you own One thing. It's definitely hard to say No to people, but there are multiple ways you can deliver this — ask them to come later, send them to another person who can help them, use outside resources (like documents, videos, other departments) to provide help, friendly decline or any other way you imagination comes with.
A funny yet truthful video about the reasons to say No
Work-Life Balance
The author believes there is no such thing as work-life balance. He explains that to achieve extraordinary results you need to have your life in imbalanced state, focusing most of your attention to the One thing you're working towards achieving.

And to maintain other areas of your life you need to counterbalance in those areas. To be honest, this section of the book seems more theoretical than practical, the author doesn't give many examples of what exactly counterbalance means and how to use that in life. I think that this principle requires more attention and examples, otherwise you my call any action you do in your life a counterbalance.

What is certain, is that when focusing on one part of your life — the other parts will take a hit in your attention, and that's totally normal. You don't need to hate your job because it takes so much time, or your kids for needing your attention. Author suggests figuring out the One Thing in each domains of your life and work towards them — one thing to improve your relationship with your wife, your spiritual world, you health, etc.

Watch this small video about the work-life balance. I agree that there's no need on trying to "keep a balance" in you life, just because it's humanly impossible. If you're going for extraordinary results (or close to it) then embrace the imbalance in your life. In case you're for a smooth sailing and let your live lead you to places — you don't have to worry about the things above.
A funny yet truthful video about the reasons to say No
What I've learned
I was constantly pausing my audiobook to think of the One Thing in my life that I can focus on, whether it was my work, passion or relationship. The book made me think in different directions and highlights some of the spots that require your focus that for some reason where blindspots before.

As a Product Owner I often received a question "what are the next projects in your Backlog". And that question never was an important one … until reading this book. I'm a scrappy person and try to push the team goal forward with every ticket and every project we do, but I never thought of finding that One Thing that can make everything easier and guarantee to get us closer to the goal.

Following the book framework is simple and blocking enough time when your schedule is flexible is also trivial. The tricky part is keeping focus on doing the One Thing and do only that one thing.
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