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The One Thing - Book summary

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by a million things to do and seemingly-insurmountable challenges? How do you keep up with the rapid changes and constant demands of work and life? In this book, Keller explains that there’s ONE Thing behind every successful person or organization. By understanding and applying it, you can concurrently do less less and have more, get extra-ordinary results and lead an extra-ordinary life.  In this summary, we’ll outline what the ONE Thing is all about and how you can apply it.

For more details, do get a copy of the book here, or check out our full summary bundle here!

The ONE Thing summary - book summary bundle

The key idea in the book is to focus on this question: What’s the ONE Thing you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?The One Thing Book Summary_focusing question1

It’s about going small, and becoming laser-focused on what truly matters.

The Domino Effect

If you started with a 2-inch domino, and increased the size of each subsequent domino by 50%, the 57th domino would practically bridge the distance between the earth and the moon.

That’s the power of geometric progression or the domino effect. You see the One Thing at work in all aspects of business and life, for example:

One Product or Service

Companies that are extraordinarily successful always have 1 signature product or service e.g. KFC’s secret chicken recipe, Google’s search.

One Person

No one is self-made. Every successful person (e.g. Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey) has that 1 person who made all the difference, be it guiding him/her in the right direction or lending a helping hand at a pivotal point.

One Passion or Skill

Extraordinarily successful people have one intense passion or ability that stands out, defines and drives them.

Digest key highlights from “The One Thing” with our book summary and infographic!

To create the same geometric effect in your life, you need to find the lead domino. Keep working at it. When you finally knock it over, the dominoes behind it would be ready to fall or have already fallen down.

The 6 Lies About Success

In the book, Keller explains 6 myths that have been repeated so often that we’ve started to mistake them as the truths. We need to debunk them before we can embrace success. Here’s a quick overview of the 6 lies about success. More details (including the specific steps you should take to address the 6 myths) is covered in our complete 12-page summary 

The One Thing summary_6 success myths

Myth: Everything matters equally

In reality, 20% of your efforts generate 80% of your results (Pareto Principle). In the book /full summary we explain how to apply the “Extreme Pareto principle” to find and focus on your ONE Thing.

Myth: Multitasking gets more done

In reality, multitasking leads to more mistakes, poorer choices, and greater stress. In the book /full “The One Thing” summary we explain why you should give your most important work your undivided attention and how to find your most important work].

Myth: We must live a Disciplined Life

In reality, we just need to form the right, powerful habits. [In the book /complete summary we explain just how to do that]

Myth: Willpower is summoned when needed

In reality, willpower gets depleted with use, and we must know how to use it wisely. In the book /full summary we discuss how to find your priorities.

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Myth: We should live a Balanced Life

In reality, you can’t be everything to everyone, and a a balanced life means compromising on all fronts. In the book /complete summary we explain how to apply counterbalance to allow yourself to go out of balance yet address all your key priorities.

Myth: Big is bad

In truth, big thinking drives big action and results. In the book /full summary we touch on how to push your limits,  imagine new outcomes and adopt a growth mindset.

Achieving Extraordinary Results:
Focus on the ONE Thing

The quality of our questions determine the quality of our answers. By asking the Focusing Question, you drive yourself to make the best possible decisions. In the book , Keller explains how to apply this question in all areas of your life, including how to define your Big Picture and immediate focus, how to create the greatest impact in all important areas of your life (including relationships, health, career, finances etc.), and how to use it to find great answers. [You can get a detailed overview in our full 12-page summary and infographic]The One Thing summary_focusing question


Keller also explains how to live by priority and how to “goal-set to the now” by connecting your “someday” goals to the ONE Thing you should do and achieve right nowThe One Thing summary_connect goals

With your goals aligned, you are now ready to take concrete action.   The book also zooms in on 3 key areas to improve your personal productivity–(a) time blocking, (b) making the 3 key commitments of Mastery, Productivity and Accountability, and (c) managing the 4 thieves of productivity, with practical tips on each of these areas.


Extraordinary results don’t happen overnight. They are built sequentially, one step at a time. You can use the Focusing Question to survey and narrow down your options, line up your priorities and do what matters most, thus setting yourself up for success and a life with no regrets.

The book comes with several practical examples and illustrations to help readers understand the concept of the ONE Thing and how to apply it. For more details, do grab a copy of the book, our full summary of The One Thing, or visit for additional resources.

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Find your Lead Domino and start focusing on your ONE THING now! 

Click here to download The One Thing book summary and infographic

One Comment

  • Rahul Ratnakar says:

    Amazing Infographics. I was thinking, everything matter equal. But the article fixed my faulty thinking. Thanks.

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