ArtAnSa - Notes

Highlights from The ONE Thing: The Surpisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Below are my highlights from the book The ONE Thing, The Surpisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results written by Gary Keller. Note that the emphasis is mine, that some small parts were changed to turn them into sentences and that all errors are probably mine :-).

1. The ONE Thing

“Be like a postage stamp— stick to one thing until you get there.” —Josh Billings

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.

3. Success Leaves Clues

Extraordinarily successful companies always have one product or service they’re most known for or that makes them the most money.

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.

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.

Part 1: The Lies

THE SIX LIES BETWEEN YOU AND SUCCESS Everything Matters Equally Multitasking A Disciplined Life Willpower Is Always on Will-Call A Balanced Life Big Is Bad

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. Achievers do sooner what others plan to do later and defer, perhaps indefinitely, what others do sooner. The difference isn’t in intent, but in right of way. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.

Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list—a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.

The 80/20 Principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards.

the majority of what you want will come from the minority of what you do

A to-do list becomes a success list when you apply Pareto’s Principle to it.

I want you to go small by identifying the 20 percent, and then I want you to go even smaller by finding the vital few of the vital few.

You can actually take 20 percent of the 20 percent of the 20 percent and continue until you get to the single most important thing!

Multitasking is a lie.

“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” —Steve Uzzell

what we can’t do is focus on two things at once

It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.

The modern office is a carnival of distracting multitasking demands.

Task switching exacts a cost few realize they’re even paying.

You can do two things at once, but you can’t focus effectively on two things at once.

The more time you spend switched to another task, the less likely you are to get back to your original task. This is how loose ends pile up.

Bounce between one activity and another and you lose time as your brain reorients to the new task.

Multitaskers experience more life-reducing, happiness-squelching stress.

Being in a distractible setting sets us up to be more distractible.

Media multitaskers actually experience a thrill with switching—a burst of dopamine—that can be addictive.

Why would we ever tolerate multitasking when we’re doing our most important work?

It may not seem so in the moment, but the connectivity of everything we do ultimately means that we each not only have a job to do, but a job that deserves to be done well.

Distraction is natural. Don’t feel bad when you get distracted.

Multitasking takes a toll.

When you try to do too much at once, you can end up doing nothing well.

Contrary to what most people believe, success is not a marathon of disciplined action.

Success is actually a short race—a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.

success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right

The fact of the matter is that aiming discipline at the right habit gives you license to be less disciplined in other areas.

it takes an average of 66 days to acquire a new habit

It takes time to develop the right habit, so don’t give up too soon.

Sustain the discipline long enough on one habit, and not only does it become easier, but so do other things

Don’t be a disciplined person . Be a person of powerful habits and use selected discipline to develop them.

Build one habit at a time. Success is sequential, not simultaneous.

Give each habit enough time. Stick with the discipline long enough for it to become routine.

Everyone accepts that limited resources must be managed, yet we fail to recognize that willpower is one of them.

Willpower is like a fast-twitch muscle that gets tired and needs rest. It’s incredibly powerful, but it has no endurance.

Participants who exercised willpower showed a marked drop in the levels of glucose in the bloodstream.

Foods that elevate blood sugar evenly over long periods, like complex carbohydrates and proteins, become the fuel of choice for high-achievers

When our willpower runs out, we all revert to our default settings.

WHAT TAXES YOUR WILLPOWER Implementing new behaviors

Filtering distractions Resisting temptation Suppressing emotion Restraining aggression Suppressing impulses Taking tests Trying to impress others Coping with fear Doing something you don’t enjoy Selecting long-term over short-term rewards

Since your self-control will be sapped throughout the day, use it when it’s at full strength on what matters most.

Don’t spread your willpower too thin. On any given day, you have a limited supply of willpower, so decide what matters and reserve your willpower for it.

Never let what matters most be compromised simply because your brain was under-fueled. Eat right and regularly.

Time your task.

To achieve an extraordinary result you must choose what matters most and give it all the time it demands. This requires getting extremely out of balance in relation to all other work issues, with only infrequent counterbalancing to address them.

In your personal life, go short and avoid long periods where you’re out of balance.

In your professional life, go long and make peace with the idea that the pursuit of extraordinary results may require you to be out of balance for long periods.

Success requires action, and action requires thought. But here’s the catch— the only actions that become springboards to succeeding big are those informed by big thinking to begin with.

Think as big as you possibly can and base what you do, how you do it, and who you do it with on succeeding at that level.

Don’t fear big. Fear mediocrity. Fear waste. Fear the lack of living to your fullest.

Ask bigger questions.

Set a goal so far above what you want that you’ll be building a plan that practically guarantees your original goal.

“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the only ones who do.”

Big thoughts go nowhere without bold action. Once you’ve asked a big question, pause to imagine what life looks like with the answer.

Don’t fear failure. It’s as much a part of your journey to extraordinary results as success.

Part 2: The Truth

If you can honestly say, “This is where I’m meant to be right now, doing exactly what I’m doing,” then all the amazing possibilities for your life become possible.

And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret—concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is all wrong. I tell you “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.”

You ask one question: the Focusing Question.

What's the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

The Focusing Question can lead you to answer not only “big picture” questions (Where am I going? What target should I aim for?) but also “small focus” ones as well (What must I do right now to be on the path to getting the big picture?

It’s both a map for the big picture and a compass for your smallest next move.

It ignores what is doable and drills down to what is necessary, to what matters.

To stay on track for the best possible day month, year, or career, you must keep asking the Focusing Question. Ask it again and again, and it forces you to line up tasks in their levered order of importance. Then, each time you ask it, you see your next priority. The power of this approach is that you’re setting yourself up to accomplish one task on top of another.

Most people struggle to comprehend how many things don’t need to be done, if they would just start by doing the right thing.

put on blinders

When we start and continue a way of thinking or a way of acting over a long enough period, we’ve created a new habit.

Focusing Question is the most powerful success habit

What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Start with the big stuff and see where it takes you.

I apply it to the important areas of my life: my spiritual life, physical health, personal life, key relationships, job, business, and financial life. And I address them in that order—each one is a foundation for the next.

You can also include a time frame—such as “right now” or “this year”—to give your answer the appropriate level of immediacy, or “in five years” or “someday” to find a big-picture answer that points you at outcomes to aim for.

FOR MY SPIRITUAL LIFE... What’s the ONE Thing I can do to help others... ?

What’s the ONE Thing I can do to achieve my diet goals... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to ensure that I exercise... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to relieve my stress... ?

FOR MY PERSONAL LIFE... What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my skill at ________... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to find time for myself... ?

What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my relationship with my spouse/partner... ?

What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make my family stronger... ?

FOR MY JOB... What’s the ONE Thing I can do to ensure that I hit my goals... ?

What’s the ONE Thing I can do to improve my skills... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to help my team succeed... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to further my career... ?

FOR MY BUSINESS... What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make us more competitive... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make our product the best... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to make us more profitable... ?

FOR MY FINANCES... What’s the ONE Thing I can do to increase my net worth... ?

Ask yourself the Focusing Question. Start each day by asking, “What’s the ONE Thing I can do today for [whatever you want] such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?” When you do this, your direction will become clear. Your work will be more productive and your personal life more rewarding.

Make it a habit. When you make asking the Focusing Question a habit, you fully engage its power to get the extraordinary results you want. It’s a difference maker. Research says this will take about 66 days. Whether it takes you a few weeks or a few months, stick with it until it becomes your routine.

Leverage reminders. Set up ways to remind yourself to use the Focusing Question. One of the best ways to do this is to put up a sign at work that says, “Until my ONE Thing is done—everything else is a distraction.”

Use notes, screen savers, and calendar cues to keep making the connection between the Success Habit and the results you seek. Put up reminders like, “The ONE Thing = Extraordinary Results” or “The Success Habi

Will Get Me to My Goal.”

Recruit support. Research shows that those around you can influence you tremendously. Starting a success support group with some of your work colleagues can help inspire all of you to practice the Success Habit every day. Get your family involved. Share your ONE Thing. Get them on board.

Quadrant 1. Big & Specific: “What can I do to double sales in

six months?” Now you have all the elements of a Great Question. It’s a big goal and it’s specific. You’re doubling sales, and that’s not easy. You also have a time frame of six months, which will be a challenge. You’ll need a big answer. You’ll have to stretch what you believe is possible and look outside the standard toolbox of solutions.

When you ask a Great Question, you’re in essence pursuing a great goal. And whenever you do this, you’ll see the same pattern—Big & Specific. A big, specific question leads to a big, specific answer, which is absolutely necessary for achieving a big goal.

  1. FIND A GREAT ANSWER The challenge of asking a Great Question is that, once you’ve asked it, you’re now faced with finding a Great Answer. Answers come in three categories: doable, stretch, and possibility

The next level up is a “stretch” answer. While this is still within your reach, it can be at the farthest end of your range. You’ll most likely have to do some research and study what others have done to come up with this answer. Doing it can be iffy since you might have to extend yourself to the very limits of your current abilities. Think of this as potentially achievable and probable, depending on your effort.

High achievers understand these first two routes but reject them. Unwilling to settle for ordinary when extraordinary is possible, they’ve asked a Great Question and want the very best answer.

They know this type of answer is the hardest to come by but also know that just by extending themselves to find it, they expand and enrich their life for the better. If you want the most from your answer, you must realize that it lives outside your comfort zone.

Anytime you don’t know the answer, your answer is to go find your answer. In other words, by default, 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.

Whether offline or online, you’re trying to find people who have already gone down the road you’re traveling, so you can research, model, benchmark, and trend their experience.

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.

You’re looking for the next thing you can do in the same direction that the best performers are heading or, if necessary, in an entirely new direction.

A new answer usually requires new behavior

The best question—and by default, the best goal—is big and specific: big, because you’re after extraordinary results; specific, to give you something to aim at and to leave no wiggle room about whether you hit the mark.

Setting a doable goal is almost like creating a task to check off your list. A stretch goal is more challenging. It aims you at the edge of your current abilities; you have to stretch to reach it. The best goal explores what’s possible.

Benchmark and trend to find the extraordinary answer you need for extraordinary results.

Part 3: Extraordinary Results

The more productive people are, the more purpose and priority are pushing and driving them.

All businesspeople want productivity and profit, but too many fail to realize that the best path to attaining them is through purpose-driven priority.

Personal productivity is the building block of all business profit.


our destinies are determined by our decisions, our lives shaped by our choices

purpose as a combination of where we’re going and what’s important to us. He implies that our priority is what we place the greatest importance on and our productivity comes from the actions we take. He lays out life as a series of connected choices, where our purpose sets our priority and our priority determines the productivity our actions produce.

Who we are and where we want to go determine what we do and what we accomplish.

having money and things won’t automatically lead to lasting happiness

five factors that contribute to our happiness: positive emotion and pleasure, achievement, relationships, engagement, and meaning

Becoming more engaged in what we do by finding ways to make our life more meaningful is the surest way to finding lasting happiness. When our daily actions fulfill a bigger purpose, the most powerful and enduring happiness can happen.

financially wealthy people are those who have enough money coming in without having to work to finance their purpose in life

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.

Purpose is the straightest path to power and the ultimate source of personal strength—strength of conviction and strength to persevere. The prescription for extraordinary results is knowing what matters to you and taking daily doses of actions in alignment with it. When you have a definite purpose for your life, clarity comes faster, which leads to more conviction in your direction, which usually leads to faster decisions. When you make faster decisions, you’ll often be the one who makes the first decisions and winds up with the best choices. And when you have the best choices, you have the opportunity for the best experiences.

Knowing why you’re doing something provides the inspiration and motivation to give the extra perspiration needed to persevere when things go south. Sticking with something long enough for success to show up is a fundamental requirement for achieving extra-ordinary results.

Discover your purpose by asking yourself what drives you. What’s the thing that gets you up in the morning and keeps you going when you’re tired and worn down? I sometimes refer to this as your “Big Why.” It’s why you’re excited with your life. It’s why you’re doing what you’re doing.

“Purpose” may sound heavy but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as simply the ONE Thing you want your life to be about more than any other. Try writing down something you’d like to accomplish and then describe how you’d do it.

Pick a direction, start marching down that path, and see how you like it. Time brings clarity and if you find you don’t like it, you can always change your mind. It’s your life.

When each day begins, we each have a choice. We can ask, “What shall I do?” or “What should I do?” Without direction, without purpose, whatever you “shall do” will always get you somewhere. But when you’re going somewhere on purpose, there will always be something you “should do” that will get you where you must go.

You may have many ways to talk about priority, but no matter the words you choose, to achieve extraordinary results your meaning must be the same—ONE Thing.

Your “present now” and all “future nows” are undeniably determined by the priority you live in the moment. The deciding factor in determining how you set that priority is who wins the battle between your present and future selves.

Economists have long known that even though people prefer big rewards over small ones, they have an even stronger preference for present rewards over future ones—even when the future rewards are MUCH BIGGER.

By thinking through the filter of Goal Setting to the Now, you set a future goal and then methodically drill down to what you should be doing right now. It can be a little like a Russian matryoshka doll in that your ONE Thing “right now” is nested inside your ONE Thing today which is nested inside your ONE Thing this week, which is nested inside your ONE Thing this month... . It’s how a small thing can actually build up to a big one.

Someday goal -> 5 year goal -> 1 year goal -> monthly -> weekly -> daily -> right now

Now, based on my goal this week, what’s the ONE Thing I can do today so I’m on track to achieve my goal this week, so I’m on track to achieve my goal this month, so I’m on track to achieve my goal this year, so I’m on track to achieve my five-year goal, so I’m on track to achieve my someday goal?

Connect today to all your tomorrows.

Visualizing the process—breaking a big goal down into the steps needed to achieve it—helps engage the strategic thinking you need to plan for and achieve extraordinary results.

Knowing your future goal is how you begin. Identifying the steps you need to accomplish along the way keeps your thinking clear while you uncover the right priority you need to accomplish right now

Write your goals down and keep them close.

Productive action transforms lives.

putting together a life of extraordinary results simply comes down to getting the most out of what you do, when what you do matters. Living for productivity produces extraordinary results.

the most successful people are the most productive people

Productive people get more done, achieve better results, and earn far more in their hours than the rest. They do so because they devote maximum time to being productive on their top priority, their ONE Thing. They time block their ONE Thing and then protect their time blocks with a vengeance. They’ve connected the dots between working their time blocks consistently and the extra-ordinary results they seek.

So, go to your calendar and block off all the time you need to accomplish your ONE Thing. If it’s a onetime ONE Thing, block off the appropriate hours and days. If it’s a regular thing, block off the appropriate time every day so it becomes a habit. Everything else—other projects, paperwork, e-mail, calls, correspondence, meetings, and all the other stuff— must wait. When you time block like this, you’re creating the most productive day possible in a way that’s repeatable every day for the rest of your life.

If disproportionate results come from one activity, then you must give that one activity disproportionate time. Each and every day, ask this Focusing Question for your blocked time: “Today, what’s the ONE Thing I can do for my ONE Thing such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” When you find the answer, you’ll be doing the most leveraged activity for your most leveraged work.

Once you’ve done your ONE Thing for the day, you can devote the rest of it to everything else. Just use the Focusing Question to identify your next priority and give that task the time it deserves. Repeat this approach until your workday is done. Getting “everything else” done may help you sleep better at night, but it’s unlikely to earn you a promotion.

Great success shows up when time is devoted every day to becoming great.

Time block your time off. Time block your ONE Thing. Time block your planning time.

By planning your time off in advance, you are, in effect, managing your work time around your downtime instead of the other way around.

Resting is as important as working.

After you’ve time blocked your time off, time block your ONE Thing. Yes, you read that right. Your most important work comes second. Why? Because you can’t happily sustain success in your professional life if you neglect your personal “re-creation” time. Time block your time off, and then make time for your ONE Thing.

Their most important appointment each day is with themselves, and they never miss it. If they complete their ONE Thing before their time block is done, they don’t necessarily call it a day. They use the Focusing Question to tell them how they can use the time they have left. Similarly, if they have a specific goal for their ONE Thing, they finish it, regardless of the time.

The key to making this work is to 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.

No matter who you are, large time blocks work.

To experience extraordinary results, be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon. Your goal is “ONE and done.” But if you don’t time block each day to do your ONE Thing, your ONE Thing won’t become a done thing.

The last priority you time block is planning time. This is when you reflect on where you are and where you want to go.

For annual planning, schedule this time late enough in the year that you have a sense of your trajectory, but not so late that you lose your running start for the next. Take a look at your someday and five-year goals and assess the progress you must make in the next year to be on track. You may even add new goals, re-envision old ones, or eliminate any that no longer reflect your purpose or priorities.

Block an hour each week to review your annual and monthly goals. First, ask what needs to happen that month for you to be on target for your annual goals. Then ask what must happen that week to be on course for your monthly goals.

hang a huge annual calendar on the wall and then put a big red X across every day he worked on his craft. “After a few days, you’ll have a chain,” Seinfeld said. “Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing the chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain. Don’t break the chain.”

You could look at the calendar and be overwhelmed: “How can I commit to this for an entire year?” But the system is designed to bring your biggest goal to the now and simply focus on making the next X.

All you have to do is avoid breaking the chain, one day at a time, until you generate a powerful new habit in your life—the time-blocking habit.

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.

The toughest part is navigating a high-level request. How do you say no to anyone important—your boss, a key client, your mom—who asks you to do something with a high sense of urgency? One way is to say yes and then ask, “If I have that done by [a specific time in the future], would that work?” Most often, these requests are more about an immediate need to hand a task off than about a need for it to be done immediately, so the requester usually just wants to know it will get done. Sometimes the request is real, needs to be done now, and you must drop what you’re doing and do it. In this situation, follow the rule “If you erase, you must replace” and immediately reschedule your time block.

“Until My ONE Thing Is Done—Everything Else Is A Distraction!”

The last thing that can knock you off your time block is when you can’t free your mind. Day in and day out, your own need to do other things instead of your ONE Thing may be your biggest challenge to overcome. Life doesn’t simplify itself the moment you simplify your focus; there’s always other stuff screaming to be done. Always. So when stuff pops into your head, just write it down on a task list and get back to what you’re supposed to be doing. In other words, do a brain dump. Then put it out of sight and out of mind until its time comes.

Build a bunker. Find somewhere to work that takes you out of the path of disruption and interruption.

The mortal but still immensely talented business author Dan Heath “bought an old laptop, deleted all its browsers, and, for good measure, deleted its wireless network drivers” and would take his “way-back machine” to a coffee shop to avoid distractions.

Store provisions. Have any supplies, materials, snacks, or beverages you need on hand and, other than for a bathroom break, avoid leaving your bunker.

Sweep for mines. Turn off your phone, shut down your e-mail, and exit your Internet browser. Your most important work deserves 100 percent of your attention.

Enlist support. Tell those most likely to seek you out what you’re doing and when you’ll be available. It’s amazing how accommodating others are when they see the big picture and know when they can access you.

What’s the ONE Thing I can do to protect my time block every day such by doing it everything else I might do will be easier or unnecessary?

BIG IDEAS Connect the dots. Extraordinary results become possible when where you want to go is completely aligned with what you do today. Tap into your purpose and allow that clarity to dictate your priorities. With your priorities clear, the only logical course is to go to work. Time block your ONE Thing. The best way to make your ONE Thing happen is to make regular appointments with yourself. Block time early in the day, and block big chunks of it—no less than four hours! Think of it this way: If your time blocking were on trial, would your calendar contain enough evidence to convict you? Protect your time block at all costs. Time blocking works only when your mantra is “Nothing and no one has permission to distract me from my ONE Thing.”

Unfortunately, your resolve won’t keep the world from trying, so be creative when you can be and firm when you must. Your time block is the most important meeting of your day, so whatever it takes to protect it is what you have to do.

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.


When what you’ve chosen to master is the right thing, then pursuing mastery of it will make everything else you do either easier or no longer necessary.

  1. MOVE FROM “E” TO “P”

The path of mastering something is the combination of not only doing the best you can do at it, but also doing it the best it can be done. Continually improving how you do something is critical to getting the most from time blocking.

You can’t put limits on what you’ll do. You have to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things if you want breakthroughs in your life. As you travel the path of mastery you’ll find yourself continually challenged to do new things. The Purposeful person follows the simple rule that “a different result requires doing something different.” Make this your mantra and breakthroughs become possible.

When you’re in search of extraordinary results, accepting an OK Plateau or any other ceiling of achievement isn’t okay when it applies to your ONE Thing.


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. That’s why your final commitment is to live the accountability cycle of results.

One of the fastest ways to bring accountability to your life is to find an accountability partner. Accountability can come from a mentor, a peer or, in its highest form, a coach. Whatever the case, it’s critical that you acquire an accountability relationship and give your partner license to lay out the honest truth.

Individuals who wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends were 76.7 percent more likely to achieve them. As effective as writing down your goals can be, simply sharing your progress toward your goals with someone regularly even just a friend, makes you almost twice as effective.

An accountability partner will positively impact your productivity. They’ll keep you honest and on track. Just knowing they are waiting for your next progress report can spur you to better results. Ideally, a coach can “coach” you on how to maximize your performance over time. This is how the very best become the very best.

Commit to be your best. Extraordinary results happen only when you give the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work. This is, in essence, the path to mastery—and because mastery takes time, it takes a commitment to achieve it. Be purposeful about your ONE Thing. Move from “E” to “P.” Go on a quest for the models and systems that can take you the farthest. Don’t just settle for what comes naturally—be open to new thinking, new skills, and new relationships. If the path of mastery is a commitment to be your best, being purposeful is a

commitment to adopt the best possible approach. Take ownership of your outcomes. If extraordinary results are what you want, being a victim won’t work. Change occurs only when you’re accountable. So stay out of the passenger seat and always choose the driver’s side. Find a coach. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who achieves extraordinary results without one.

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” —John Carmack

THE FOUR THIEVES OF PRODUCTIVITY Inability to Say “No” Fear of Chaos Poor Health Habits Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals

The way to protect what you’ve said yes to and stay productive is to say no to anyone or anything that could derail you.

When you say yes to something, it’s imperative that you understand what you’re saying no to.

just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work

When we tirelessly work our time block, clutter automatically takes up residence around us.

Focusing on ONE Thing has a guaranteed consequence: other things don’t get done. Although that’s exactly the point, it doesn’t automatically make us feel any better about it. There will always be people and projects that simply aren’t a part of your biggest single priority but still matter. You will feel them pressing for your attention. There will always be unfinished work and loose ends lying around to snare your focus.

Now, in anybody’s life or work there are some things that just can’t be ignored: family, friends, pets, personal commitments, or critical job projects.

“If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?”

Personal energy mismanagement is a silent thief of productivity.

When we keep borrowing against our future by poorly protecting our energy, there is a predictable outcome of either slowly running out of gas or prematurely crashing and burning.

High achievement and extraordinary results require big energy.

Begin early with meditation and prayer for spiritual energy; starting the day by connecting with your higher purpose aligns your thoughts and actions with a larger story. Then move straight to the kitchen for your most important meal of the day and the cornerstone of physical energy: a nutritious breakfast designed to fuel your day’s work. You can’t run long on empty calories, and you can’t run at all on an empty tank. Figure out easy ways to eat right and then plan all your daily meals a week at a time.

Fueled up, head to your exercise spot to relieve stress and strengthen your body. Conditioning gives you maximum capacity, which is critical for maximum productivity. If you have limited time to exercise, the simple thing to do is to wear a pedometer. Toward the end of the day, if you haven’t walked at least 10,000 steps, make it your ONE “exercise” Thing to reach your 10,000-step goal before you go to bed. This one habit will change your life. Now, if you haven’t spent time with your loved ones at breakfast or during your workout, go find them. Hug, talk, and laugh. You’ll be reminded why you’re working in the first place, and motivated to be as productive as possible so you can get home earlier. Productive people thrive on emotional energy; it fills their heart with joy and makes them light on their feet.

Next, grab your calendar and plan your day. Make sure you know what matters most, and make sure those things are going to get done. Look at what you have to do, estimate the time it will take to do them, and plan your time accordingly. Knowing what you must do and making the time to do it is how you bring the most amazing mental energy to your life. Calendaring your day this way frees your mind from worrying about what might not get done while inspiring you with what will. It’s only when you make time for extraordinary results that they get a chance to show up. 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. Around noon, take a break, have lunch, and turn your attention to everything else you can do before you head out for the day. Last, in the evening when it’s time for bed, get eight hours of sleep. Powerful engines need cooling down and resting before taking off again, and you’re no different. You need your sleep so your mind and body can rest and recharge for tomorrow’s extraordinary productivity. Anyone you know who gets little sleep and appears to be doing great is either a freak of nature or hiding its effects from you. Either way, they aren’t your role model. Protect your sleep by determining when you must go to bed each night and don’t allow yourself to be lured away from it. If you’re committed to your wake-up time, you can stay up late only so many nights before you’re forced to hit the hay at a decent hour.

THE HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE PERSON’S DAILY ENERGY PLAN Meditate and pray for spiritual energy. Eat right, exercise, and sleep sufficiently for physical energy. Hug, kiss, and laugh with loved ones for emotional energy. Set goals, plan, and calendar for mental energy. Time block your ONE Thing for business energy.

when you spend the early hours energizing yourself, you get pulled through the rest of the day with little additional effort

Your environment must support your goals.

For you to achieve extraordinary results, the people surrounding you and your physical surroundings must support your goals.

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.

Start saying “no.” Always remember that when you say yes to something, you’re saying no to everything else. It’s the essence of keeping a commitment. Start turning down other requests outright or saying, “No, for now” to distractions so that nothing detracts you from getting to your top priority. Learning to say no can and will liberate you. It’s how you’ll find the time for your ONE Thing. Accept chaos. Recognize that pursuing your ONE Thing moves other things to the back burner. Loose ends can feel like snares, creating tangles in your path. This kind of chaos is unavoidable. Make peace with it. Learn to deal with it. The success you have accomplishing your ONE Thing will continually prove you made the right decision. Manage your energy. Don’t sacrifice your health by trying to take on too much. Your body is an amazing machine, but it doesn’t come with a warranty, you can’t trade it in, and repairs can be costly. It’s important to manage your energy so you can do what you must do, achieve what you want to achieve, and live the life you want to live. Take ownership of your environment. Make sure that the people around you and your physical surroundings support your goals. The right people in your life and the right physical environment on your daily path will support your efforts to get to your ONE Thing. When both are in alignment with your ONE Thing, they will supply the optimism and physical lift you need to make your ONE Thing happen.

Your journey toward extraordinary results will be built above all else on faith. It’s only when you have faith in your purpose and priorities that you’ll seek out your ONE Thing.

Faith ultimately leads to action, and when we take action we avoid the very thing that could undermine or undo everything we’ve worked for—regret.

A life worth living might be measured in many ways, but the one way that stands above all others is living a life of no regrets.

I wish that I’d let myself be happier

I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me

Putting The ONE Thing to Work

What’s the ONE Thing I can do this week to discover or affirm my life’s purpose... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do in 90 days to get in the physical shape I want... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do today to strengthen my spiritual faith... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do to find time to practice the guitar 20 minutes a day... ? Knock five strokes off my golf game in 90 days... ? Learn to paint in six months... ?

What’s the ONE Thing we can do this week to improve our marriage... ? What’s the ONE Thing we can do every week to spend more quality family time together... ? What’s the ONE Thing we can do tonight to support our kid’s schoolwork... ? What’s the ONE Thing we can do to make our next vacation the best ever... ? Our next Christmas the best ever... ? Thanksgiving the best ever... ?

In some cases, you’ll want to block time to find your answer and, other times you’ll just need to block time to implement it.

What’s the ONE Thing I can do today to complete my current project ahead of schedule... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do this month to produce better work... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do before my next review to get the raise I want... ? What’s the ONE Thing I can do everyday to finish my work and still get home on time... ?

In any meeting ask, “What’s the ONE Thing we can accomplish in this meeting and end early... ? In building your team ask, What’s the ONE Thing I can do in the next six months to find and develop incredible talent... ? In planning for the next month, year, or five years ask, What’s the ONE Thing we can do right now to accomplish our goals ahead of schedule and under budget... ? In your department or at the highest company level ask, What’s the ONE Thing we can do in the next 90 days to create a ONE Thing culture... ?

Ask yourself the question, “What’s the ONE Thing I can do right now to start using The ONE Thing in my life such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”