The irony of trying to read The One Thing while sat with my boys who were “eating” their dinner wasn’t lost on me. It took me about twenty minutes to read two pages and I wasn’t done there. Not satisfied with flunking at this basic principal once, I decided to persevere and went into the other room to jot down the above thought. No sooner had I typed “The irony of trying to read The One Thing…” than my eldest started shouting that the younger one had spilt his milk. I am the embodiment of the issue that The One Thing is trying to resolve. In that moment the “one thing” that I needed to be focusing on was getting the kids to eat their dinner, not my 52 week challenge. Had I done that then perhaps I wouldn’t have had to cry over spilt milk.
As you may have worked out from that introduction, The One Thing is a book which extols the virtues of doing the ONE most important thing you need to do at any one time.
You first have to figure out what your one thing is in relation to work, family, relationships, health or other pursuits. You then pursue this with demonic determination. Gary Keller has devised a strategy that encourages you to build on the effort of hard work bit by bit, day by day to reach your goals. Keller encourages you to follow the habits of uber successful people and think big. Bigger than that, enormous. No bigger still, we’re talking out of this world, collosal. If all this has got you thinking that this book is aimed at hard nosed, career focused, BBC Apprentice candidates, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Coming from a Hindu background there was something that struck me about The One Thing and the similarities with concepts of karma in Hinduism. I don’t just mean the western concept of karma in that you reap what you sow, although that was also true. But the basic, grass roots meaning of karma which simply means “action”. There is a point in the book where Keller points out that you have to act in all situations. All the time. Even when you do nothing that is an action and this is exactly what karma means. It was then that it struck me how spiritual this books message really was. Keller is trying not just to make us more successful, but more fulfilled. Acting without the impatience of seeking quick wins to feed our insatiable appetites. He is keen to instil a sense of diligence and discipline and build a way of thinking into our lives.
The One Thing is the kind of book that if you are so inclined you could read over and over again. Each time strengthening the power of the message, each time reminding yourself what you already know, but keep forgetting. This book is beautifully written. Keller employs the use of many parables to get his point to hit home and you come away feeling refreshed and re-energised with the kind of focus that could make a zen master weep. It’s keeping hold of that feeling that’s the tricky bit. But for now I’d better go, one of the boys has broken a picture frame…
Next Monday I will be reviewing ‘Who We Are and How We Got Here’ by David Reich. If you’re interested in where on earth you just came from swing by next Monday and I’ll fill you in!