Notes & Quotes: The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The following are my favorite quotes from Gary Keller and Jay Papasan's The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
  1. What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?
  2. When you want the absolute best chance to succeed at anything you want, your approach should always be the same. Go small. “Going small” is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.
  3. Everyone has one person who either means the most to them or was the first to influence, train, or manage them. No one succeeds alone. No one.
  4. Often, the line between passion and skill can be blurry. That’s because they’re almost always connected.
  5. Passion for something leads to disproportionate time practicing or working at it. That time spent eventually translates to skill, and when skill improves, results improve. Better results generally lead to more enjoyment, and more passion and more time is invested. It can be a virtuous cycle all the way to extraordinary results.
  6. The Six Lies Between You and Success:
    1. Everything matters equally.
    2. Multitasking.
    3. A disciplined life.
    4. Willpower is always on will-call.
    5. A balanced life.
    6. Big is bad.
  7. Achievers operate differently. They have an eye for the essential. They pause just long enough to decide what matters and then allow what matters to drive their day.
  8. In the world of success, things aren’t equal. A small amount of causes creates most of the results. Just the right input creates most of the output. Selected effort creates almost all of the rewards.
  9. No matter the task, mission, or goal. Big or small. Start with as large a list as you want, but develop the mindset that you will whittle your way from there to the critical few and not stop until you end with the essential ONE. The imperative ONE. The ONE Thing.
  10. Multitasking is a lie.
  11. Researchers estimate that workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and then spend almost a third of their day recovering from these distractions.
  12. We don’t need any more discipline than we already have. We just need to direct and manage it a little better.
  13. When you discipline yourself, you’re essentially training yourself to act in a specific way. Stay with this long enough and it becomes routine—in other words, a habit. So when you see people who look like “disciplined” people, what you’re really seeing is people who’ve trained a handful of habits into their lives. This makes them seem “disciplined” when actually they’re not. No one is.
  14. The results suggest that it takes an average of 66 days to acquire a new habit. The full range was 18 to 254 days, but the 66 days represented a sweet spot—with easier behaviors taking fewer days on average and tough ones taking longer. Self-help circles tend to preach that it takes 21 days to make a change, but modern science doesn’t back that up. It takes time to develop the right habit, so don’t give up too soon. Decide what the right one is, then give yourself all the time you need and apply all the discipline you can summon to develop it.
  15. The brain makes up 1/50th of our body mass but consumes a staggering 1/5th of the calories we burn for energy.
  16. Foods that elevate blood sugar evenly over long periods, like complex carbohydrates and proteins, become the fuel of choice for high-achievers—literal proof that “you are what you eat.”
  17. If you want to get the most out of your day, do your most important work—your ONE Thing—early, before your willpower is drawn down. Since your self-control will be sapped throughout the day, use it when it’s at full strength on what matters most.
  18. At first, most people worked according to their needs and ambitions. The blacksmith didn’t have to stay at the forge until 5 p.m.; he could go home when the horse’s feet were shod. Then 19th-century industrialization saw for the first time large numbers working for someone else. The story became one of hard-driving bosses, year-round work schedules, and lighted factories that ignored dawn and dusk.
  19. When you gamble with your time, you may be placing a bet you can’t cover. Even if you’re sure you can win, be careful that you can live with what you lose.
  20. In his novel Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, James Patterson artfully highlights where our priorities lie in our personal and professional balancing act: “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls—family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.
  21. Your work life is divided into two distinct areas—what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be okay with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.
  22. Everyone has the same amount of time, and hard work is simply hard work. As a result, what you do in the time you work determines what you achieve. And since what you do is determined by what you think, how big you think becomes the launching pad for how high you achieve.
  23. When people talk about “reinventing” their career or their business, small boxes are often the root cause. What you build today will either empower or restrict you tomorrow. It will either serve as a platform for the next level of your success or as a box, trapping you where you are.
  24. Big gives you the best chance for extraordinary results today and tomorrow. When Arthur Guinness set up his first brewery, he signed a 9,000-year lease.
  25. Don’t fear big. Fear mediocrity. Fear waste. Fear the lack of living to your fullest. When we fear big, we either consciously or subconsciously work against it. We either run toward lesser outcomes and opportunities or we simply run away from the big ones. If courage isn’t the absence of fear, but moving past it, then thinking big isn’t the absence of doubts, but moving past them. Only living big will let you experience your true life and work potential.
  26. One of the most empowering moments of my life came when I realized that life is a question and how we live it is our answer.
  27. Anyone who dreams of an uncommon life eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon approach to living it.
  28. The Focusing Question collapses all possible questions into one: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do / such that by doing it / everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
  29. It’s really a simple process: You ask a great question, then you seek out a great answer.
  30. Your first ONE Thing is to search for clues and role models to point you in the right direction. The first thing to do is ask, “Has anyone else studied or accomplished this or something like it?” The answer is almost always yes, so your investigation begins by finding out what others have learned.
  31. The research and experience of others is the best place to start when looking for your answer. Armed with this knowledge, you can establish a benchmark, the current high-water mark for all that is known and being done. With a stretch approach this was your maximum, but now it is your minimum. It’s not all you’ll do, but it becomes the hilltop where you’ll stand to see if you can spot what might come next. This is called trending, and it’s the second step.
  32. There is a natural rhythm to our lives that becomes a simple formula for implementing the ONE Thing and achieving extraordinary results: purpose, priority, and productivity.
  33. Acquiring money and obtaining things are pretty much all done for the pleasure we expect them to bring.
  34. To be financially wealthy you must have a purpose for your life. In other words, without purpose, you’ll never know when you have enough money, and you can never be financially wealthy.
  35. Hyperbolic discounting—the further away a reward is in the future, the smaller the immediate motivation to achieve it.
  36. Connect today to all your tomorrows. It matters.
  37. In three separate studies, psychologists observed 262 students to see the impact of visualization on outcomes. The students were asked to visualize in one of two ways: Those in one group were told to visualize the outcome (like getting an “A” on an exam) and the others were asked to visualize the process needed to achieve a desired outcome (like all of the study sessions needed to earn that “A” on the exam). In the end, students who visualized the process performed better across the board—they studied earlier and more frequently and earned higher grades than those who simply visualized the outcome.
  38. “Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil... . It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.” —Margarita Tartakovsky
  39. If money is a metaphor for producing results, then it’s clear time-managing system’s success can be judged by the productivity it produces.
  40. To achieve extraordinary results and experience greatness, time block these three things in the following order: Time block your time off. Time block your ONE Thing. Time block your planning time.
  41. Block time as early in your day as you possibly can. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to take care of morning priorities, then move to your ONE Thing. My recommendation is to block four hours a day. This isn’t a typo. I repeat: four hours a day. Honestly, that’s the minimum. If you can do more, then do it.
  42. Although time blocking isn’t hard, protecting the time you’ve blocked is. The world doesn’t know your purpose or priorities and isn’t responsible for them—you are. So it’s your job to protect your time blocks from all those who don’t know what matters most to you, and from yourself when you forget.
  43. When I first began to time block, the most effective thing I did was to put up a sheet of paper that said, “Until My ONE Thing Is Done—Everything Else Is A Distraction!”
  44. Turn off your phone, shut down your e-mail, and exit your Internet browser. Your most important work deserves 100 percent of your attention.
  45. The people who achieve extraordinary results don’t achieve them by working more hours. They achieve them by getting more done in the hours they work.
  46. “Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.” —George Halas
  47. Achieving extraordinary results through time blocking requires three commitments. First, you must adopt the mindset of someone seeking mastery. Mastery is a commitment to becoming your best, so to achieve extraordinary results you must embrace the extraordinary effort it represents. Second, you must continually seek the very best ways of doing things. Nothing is more futile than doing your best using an approach that can’t deliver results equal to your effort. And last, you must be willing to be held accountable to doing everything you can to achieve your ONE Thing.
  48. Since there is always another level to learn, mastery actually means you’re a master of what you know and an apprentice of what you don’t.
  49. Highly productive people don’t accept the limitations of their natural approach as the final word on their success. When they hit a ceiling of achievement, they look for new models and systems, better ways to do things to push them through. They pause just long enough to examine their options, they pick the best one, and then they’re right back at it. Ask an “E” to cut some firewood and the Entrepreneurial person would likely shoulder an axe and head straight for the woods. On the other hand, the Purposeful person might ask, “Where can I get a chainsaw?” With a “P” mindset, you can achieve breakthroughs and accomplish things far beyond your natural abilities.
  50. The Purposeful person follows the simple rule that “a different result requires doing something different.” Make this your mantra and breakthroughs become possible.
  51. There is an undeniable connection between what you do and what you get. Actions determine outcomes, and outcomes inform actions. Be accountable and this feedback loop is how you discover the things you must do to achieve extraordinary results.
  52. Taking complete ownership of your outcomes by holding no one but yourself responsible for them is the most powerful thing you can do to drive your success.
  53. When life happens, you can be either the author of your life or the victim of it. Those are your only two choices— accountable or unaccountable. This may sound harsh, but it’s true. Every day we choose one approach or the other, and the consequences follow us forever.
  54. When you strive for greatness, chaos is guaranteed to show up.
  55. Personal energy mismanagement is a silent thief of productivity.
  56. It’s dangerous to assume that health and hearth will be just waiting for you to come back and enjoy anytime in the future.
  57. Figure out easy ways to eat right and then plan all your daily meals a week at a time.
  58. When you get to work, go to work on your ONE Thing. If you’re like me and have some morning priorities you must get done first, then give yourself an hour at most to do them. Don’t loiter and don’t slow down. Clear the decks and then get down to the business of doing what matters most.
  59. The Highly Productive Person's Daily Energy Plan
    1. Meditate and pray for spiritual energy.
    2. Eat right, exercise, and sleep sufficiently for physical energy.
    3. Hug, kiss, and laugh with loved ones for emotional energy.
    4. Set goals, plan, and calendar for mental energy.
    5. Time block your ONE Thing for business energy.
  60. If you can have a highly productive day until noon, the rest of the day falls easily into place.
  61. Structuring the early hours of each day is the simplest way to extraordinary results.
  62. Your environment must support your goals. Your environment is simply who you see and what you experience every day...For you to achieve extraordinary results, the people surrounding you and your physical surroundings must support your goals.
  63. The people we see tend to set our standard for what’s appropriate. In time, you begin to think, act, and even look a little like those you hang out with. But not only do their attitudes and health habits influence you, their relative success does too. If the people you spend your time with are high achievers, their achievements can influence your own.
  64. What is around you will either aim you toward your time block or pull you away.
  65. Don’t let your environment lead you astray. Your physical surroundings matter and the people around you matter.
  66. Write down your current income. Then multiply it by a number: 2, 4, 10, 20—it doesn’t matter. Just pick one, multiply your income by it, and write down the new number. Looking at it and ignoring whether you’re frightened or excited, ask yourself, “Will my current actions get me to this number in the next five years?” If they will, then keep doubling the number until they won’t. If you then make your actions match your answer, you’ll be living large.
  67. There is no surefire thing, but there’s always something, ONE Thing, that out of everything matters more than anything.
  68. What would an older, wiser you say?
  69. Success is an inside job. Put yourself together, and your world falls into place. When you bring purpose to your life, know your priorities, and achieve high productivity on the priority that matters most every day, your life makes sense and the extraordinary becomes possible.
So what's your ONE Thing? If you enjoyed the quotes, read the book!