The ONE Thing – Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
To kick off the first book summary we will be going over Gary Keller’s ‘The ONE Thing’ which feels quite appropriate with everyone setting their New Years resolutions. This is a book packed full of value and the advice is incredibly simple, yet brilliant. Before we begin though here is a little bit about the authors.
Gary Keller is the cofounder of the largest real estate company in the United States Keller Williams Realty and ‘The ONE Thing’ is his summary of practical productivity/goal setting hacks which he has used to grow his business to what it is today, as well as making this book a Wall Street and New York Times best seller.
Jay Papasan has worked with Gary Keller for over ten years and is the executive editor and vice president of Keller Williams Realty. He is also the president of Rellek Publishing and has co-authored multiple award winning titles.
Both of these men as you can see are hugely successful and used the following tips below to reach where they are today:
Ask Big and Ask Specific
Setting a goal that you want to achieve is like asking a question. It’s a simple step from “I’d like to do that” to “How do I achieve that?” Most people unfortunately ask really small and broad questions such as “How do I increase sales?” This could literally mean making a little more money from sales at some point in the future, there is no real target to aim for making it difficult to track progress and stay motivated. What you really want to do when setting your goals is to ask a BIG and SPECIFIC question such as “How can I double sales in the next 6 months?” If it is BIG then you are going after extraordinary results. If it is SPECIFIC then you have something to aim at and you have no wiggle room if you do not hit the mark. Aiming for twice as many sales makes it BIG as this is very difficult and could completely change the size of their business. An amount to aim for such as double and also a timeframe to complete the goal within such as 6 months makes it SPECIFIC. Great goal setting comes from asking great questions and if that question is BIG and SPECIFIC then the likelihood of you achieving extraordinary results is increased tenfold.
What is the ONE thing?
Now that we have our goal we need to identify our ONE thing. The ‘ONE thing’ is the one thing that you can do that will make everything you want to achieve easier to accomplish(in other words, the most important thing you can do for your goals). So if you look at what you want to achieve and then ask yourself what you could do to achieve that, you should be able to come up with a list of tasks that you could complete. I imagine most of us would turn this into a check list and then gradually work our way through it, completing the easiest tasks first. Gary Keller on the other hand tells you to look at the list and ask the question ‘What is the ONE thing you can do today such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?’ then cross each of them off until you are left with the task you feel would be most important towards helping you achieve your goal.
So we have asked a BIG and SPECIFIC question ‘How do I double sales in the next 6 months?’ and have a very clear goal ‘Double sales in the next 6 months’. Now we can pose the question “What is the ONE thing you can do today to double sales in the next 6 months and such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” The answer to this question will be your ONE thing and asking this question everyday will help you identify what you should be spending most of your time on especially as the importance of certain tasks will change as you progress. Bare in mind your answer should be something that is difficult not something that you know you will easily achieve.
You can do this for each of your goals and you will have ONE thing for each of them however there will be ONE goal you see as the most important and will require most of your time, this is what you will time block.
Once you have identified your ONE thing it is just as important to find yourself time to actually do it. This is where time blocking comes in to play. Time blocking involves setting at least 4 hours of your time towards working on your ONE thing. So as students your ONE thing may be writing out your dissertation, completing an essay or for those trying to run your own startup, working on that. You would set at least 4 hours of your day in ONE sitting where you will work on this ONE thing. So you pick a time, let’s say from 10am-2pm and focus completely on your ONE thing and nothing else for the duration of that time block.
Protect your Time Block
Now it is all well and good having some set time and a plan for when you are doing your work and you may already be thinking this is nothing new however the key to actually being productive is in PROTECTING your time block. If you see your ONE thing as the most important part of the day then you can start planning things around it. If you know that every day you have a 4 hour time slot in which you will be completely focused on your ONE thing you can begin to say no to any offers you have which will disrupt it. A hugely important skill for this is learning how to say no to people. View your time block as having an appointment with yourself which you cannot miss so when someone asks you to do something just say ‘I have an appointment at that time’ but then offer alternatives so as not to act completely disinterested. It is also a good idea to have everything you need with you when you begin to minimise distractions or time away from your workspace.
Seth Godin – ‘You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can’t bear the short term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.’
So we have identified our goals, we have identified our ONE thing, we have selected a time block to complete the work and we know how to protect it from disruption all we need to do now is be consistent. One 4 hour stint on your ONE thing may not seem to amount to much but one hundred 4 hour stints on your ONE thing can amount to an incredible amount of work. As well if you stick to saying no to people when it comes to your ONE thing you will build up a reputation as someone who works on their terms and cannot be easily persuaded. Over time people will start to respect that and as long as you offer them alternatives and don’t completely neglect your friends you can easily maintain your social life. It takes on average 66 days for a habit to be formed so sticking to this for that amount of time will make it automatic and make you less reliant on pure willpower which is limited.
I hope that this information here has been useful and as this is the first in a potential series it would be great to get some feedback from you guys to decide whether or not we should continue producing more book summaries. I will also stress that this isn’t my own advice, it is the advice of two hugely successful businessmen however I have applied it to my life and seen some of the benefits. I would also highly recommend reading the actual book as there is so much more amazing content that I haven’t been able to squeeze in. Here is a link to the book too.