The One Thing – Book Review

22 Jul The One Thing – Book Review

Are you trying to “be the best” at everything? Many of us feel like we should be living life better. Meditating more, exercising more, reading more, socialising more, progressing more in our careers – and so on, and so on. Yet there are only so many hours in a day, and limited energy and willpower for each of us to keep this going. In their compelling book, “The One Thing”, Gary Keller et al explain why we do not need to exhaust ourselves with such unrealistic expectations. Rather, focus on what really matters to you.

If you like self-improvement books and content, this is certainly a must-read. However, you will also benefit from it if you find yourself pulled in multiple directions each day by life’s commitments and “to-dos”, feeling like you rarely or never accomplish what you truly set out to do. The One Thing shows how, quite often, the problem for many of us is having “too much on our plates”. Rather than trying to keep up an unrealistic, unsustainable pace of life with too many hobbies and duties, many of us simply need to scale back and identify the one thing – or handful – that truly matters, and focus our energies on that.

This simple message is unpacked brilliantly in The One Thing, stressing that a busy life is not necessarily a productive or “successful” one. Think of Mozart and his fame as a pianist and composer. He was able to achieve what he did by focusing on what truly mattered to him – music, not by also trying to live the lifestyle of a bodybuilder like Ronnie Coleman. The authors point out that, at root, many of us believe that we can achieve these levels of success in multiple areas of our life – fitness, creativity, business and more – when there is simply not enough human energy, and hours in a day, to do this.

Realising this is not only humbling, but also liberating. It helps us find the freedom to step back and reflect on what really matters to us, and focus our efforts on that. What is it that ultimately drives you? Is it working towards a spiritual goal, perhaps, or a goal relating to physical health? Maybe you have always wanted to fully commit to a business idea. The authors bring us back to a timeless truth which is that once your “One Thing” is identified, your life takes on new meaning and your other goals become secondary. No longer do you need to become a world-renowned composer, a leading bodybuilder and the new Mark Zuckerberg. Rather, you could pick one – music perhaps – and forget the rest (although you may include a fitness plan which is not all-consuming).

In many ways, Keller et al have not advanced any new ideas in this book. The truth about time and human energy being scarce resources is as old as civilization itself. Yet it does package these old truths in a very readable and engaging way which is likely to give you pause for reflection about how your life is currently unfolding, and where you’d like it to go from here. Overall, The One Thing is a powerful book for self-help enthusiasts and wider audiences – especially for those who feel “run off their feet”, or divided between passions and obligations.