Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, is challenging, frustrating, and absolutely essential reading. Keller’s premise is deceptively simple: the key to living a life that matters is identifying the One Thing that defines your purpose on the planet, and then working purposefully on that One Thing. Keller explains:
At any moment in time there can be only One Thing, and when that One Thing is in line with your purpose and sits atop your priorities, it will be the most productive thing you can do to launch you towards the best you can be.
Keller is not advocating workaholism; on the contrary, he encourages the reader find One Thing to focus on in all the important aspects of life: health, relationships, etc. The emphasis on “purpose” however, is definitely geared toward readers grappling with a search for fulfillment in their professional lives.
In its emphasis on finding the right job, “The One Thing” reminded me a bit of “What Color Is Your Parachute,” as well as some other books I’ve read on similar topics. Nevertheless, by focusing on a single, rigorous principle that applies universally (“What is the One Thing I can do [to achieve this specific goal], such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”), “The One Thing” effectively transcends the career guide genre.
I personally found this book extremely helpful. Until now, the topic of this website has been safety and resilience, and my career goal has been to build my consulting business. Gary Keller’s book forced me to acknowledge that I really want more out of life. The book’s process clarified my purpose in a way that I found revelatory. When I’m honest with myself, I see that my One Thing has always been creating content that promotes free thought, independent action, and personal resilience. Everything else I do either supports that, or distracts from it.
You’ll be seeing more about that from me soon, but for now I’ll close with a sincere endorsement of “The One Thing.” If you aren’t sure what you’re doing with your life (or in some part of your life), read it as soon as possible!