The ONE Thing that Drives Success

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, has been a #1 best-selling book on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-sellers list. Gary Keller built the world's largest real estate company by number of agents and second largest by revenue. In the book, he has distilled the lessons he's learned that helped him,

Do less. Have greater impact!

This video is excerpted from Clark Kegley's book review, 10 Life-Changing Lessons from The ONE Thing by Gary Keller(03:33 - 05:10).
The commentary below is from my 30+ years of consulting.

Summary: The ONE Thing                                                       

The life of a consultant is a whirlwind of demands. The consultants who win are those who learn how to focus on The ONE Thing. 

The bestselling book, "The ONE Thing" by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, explains how you can change your way of thinking and working so can focus on The ONE Thing. Gary Keller knows how to do this.

Gary Keller is the Executive Chairman of Keller Williams, the largest real estate company in the world by agent count and second largest by sales and units sold. He founded the company and grew it.

For a while, multi-tasking was a point of professional pride. That was all reality distortion - being busy is not the same as completing strategic projects that move your life and business forward.

Research shows that multitasking distracts you - you lose focus, concentration, momentum, and impact.

There’s a significant philosophy behind this book. It’s the idea that we have one central purpose, or 'ONE Thing,' that we're meant to pursue. We're unstoppable when we figure out what this is and channel our energies accordingly.

It's about decluttering, simplifying, and prioritizing what matters most. It's about not being "busy” but being productive. The ONE Thing approach enables you to channel all your energy into accomplishing the task that will make a significant difference.

I get seriously distracted by learning bright, shiny new things. It could be new tech, new ideas, or travel to new places. But in hindsight, it's easy for me to see the most significant impact on my consulting business has been when I was either,

  • Focused on helping clients reach their objectives, especially when facilitating or leading a group to a strategic decision.
  • Working before dawn while the family sleeps or late after the family is in bed. The former was best for new ideas or client work; the latter paved a clear runway for writing 27 books, including four best-sellers.

The difference between plodding and making big strategic jumps was focusing on "The ONE Thing." That thing is most strategically important.

Mastering "The ONE Thing" principles can significantly transform your consulting practice, creating a path to unparalleled success.

The book, "The ONE Thin,g" has several principles, but the foundation is The ONE Thing. By focusing on your ONE Thing, leveraging the Domino Effect, understanding that success is sequential, not simultaneous, asking the Focusing Question, setting goals to the NOW, using Time Blocking to schedule your work, and living the ONE Thing, you can maximize productivity, foster client relationships, and achieve a fulfilling work-life balance.

Take-aways Critical to Success

  • Focus on ONE main task at a time to maximize productivity.
  • This 'ONE Thing' should be the task that creates a significant impact.
  • The 'ONE Thing' philosophy applies to specific tasks and your professional purpose.
  • Identify and prioritize the task that will make the most significant difference in reaching your goals.

Take-Actions Critical to Success

Scenario 1
You're a consultant trying to land a big client, but you're overwhelmed with the list of tasks - research, interviews, proposal writing, networking.

Identify your ONE Thing - the task that will most impact success and the following tasks. Maybe it’s interviewing key stakeholders. Maybe it’s researching competitors. Maybe it’s presenting your findings at an executive briefing. Identify the ONE thing that is critical to success. Focus all your energy on this.

When that task is done, then move to the new ONE Thing.

Scenario 2
You have a client meeting approaching, but there are several other tasks demanding your attention.

Use The ONE Thing principle. Decide what's most crucial for a successful meeting. Is it finding the most critical question to be answered? Is it identifying obstacles? Is it identifying decision-makers in the meeting? Focus on The ONE Thing first, and let lesser tasks wait.

I've found a good way to set aside secondary tasks is to write down where I've stopped and what I need to do to get restarted; file names, ideas, people, etc. That way I can clear those secondary tasks from my mind and jump back on them at full speed when I come back to them.

Scenario 3
You want to expand your consultancy but feel bogged down with daily operations.


Find your ONE Thing that drives growth. Maybe it's developing a marketing strategy and then following the ONE Thing in that strategy until it is solid. Identify your best time of day and week to focus and do concentrated work, then work on The ONE Thing during your “prime” concentrated work time. Let your family and co-workers know you are in The Zone. Put your phone on silent and close emails.

Scenario 4

As an independent consultant, you've noticed that you're spending too much time on tasks that don't significantly contribute to your business growth. It's becoming increasingly frustrating because these tasks are eating into your productive hours and causing you to lose focus on your core objectives.


It's time to realign your focus and reassess your tasks.

  • Focus on the high-value service or marketing effort that effectively meets client demands.
  • Identify that ONE Thing in your business that would make a significant impact.
  • Use Time Blocking to dedicate your best work hour to working on that ONE Thing.

Case Study: The ONE Thing - Overwhelm to Success                                

Gene, a seasoned business consultant, was at a crossroads. With a growing list of clients, endless meetings, and a long list of tasks demanding his attention, he felt like he was constantly firefighting. The stress was mounting, and the joy he once felt at work was gone. He knew something had to change.

He stopped at his old coffee shop/bookstore to breathe and clear his head. As he walked in the Reader's Recommend book stand on the counter had a copy of "The ONE Thing" by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Intrigued, he flipped through pages and was soon engrossed by the principle of focusing on just one significant task or goal. It resonated with him. It reminded him of when he was clear about his path and direction.

His quest to be everything to everyone had spread him too thin. Instead of doing more his clients were getting mediocre results and he was getting burnout.

Gene decided to put The ONE Thing into practice. He took a week off to reflect and strategize. He listed out all his projects and clients, analyzing which among them had the potential for the most significant impact. He identified a major project for a client in the healthcare sector. If executed well, this project could boost his revenue and position him as a leading consultant in the healthcare niche in his state.

With renewed vigor, Gene dedicated most of his time and resources to this project. He collaborated with experts, conducted in-depth research, and presented innovative solutions.

The project was a resounding success, leading to more referrals and establishing John's reputation in healthcare consulting. By focusing on his ONE Thing, Gene transformed his business trajectory. And he now had time and a clear head to enjoy the coffee at his favorite bookstore.

Your Call to Action                                                   

It's time to shift your overwhelm and use the power of The ONE Thing. Here's a roadmap to get started:

  • Pinpoint Your Priority
    What's the one thing that, if tackled head-on, would lead to exponential growth or make your work easier?
  • Craft Your Sanctuary
    Designate a specific workspace and time that are free from distractions. This is where you can focus on your ONE Thing. Whether it's a home office or a quiet corner in a cafe, make sure you can do deep work without distraction.
  • Time-Block Your Focus
    Dedicate specific chunks of time daily or weekly solely for your ONE Thing. Inform your clients and colleagues about these focus periods, ensuring minimal interruptions. Examine your past workflow and mental energy. What's the best time for you personally? Look for a three-hour block. Research is continuing to show that prime time is different for different people. Not everyone is a 5:30 AM morning person.   
  • Take Pride in What You Completed
    At the end of the day, don't look at the full page of To Do tasks. Did you get your major ONE Thing done for that day? Congratulate yourself out loud and with a handclap. An "out loud" personal "cheer" from yourself to yourself creates almost as much inner energy as if it had been from others. Why do you think the tennis pros and football players go bonkers after a great win???
  • Reflect and Refine
    At the end of each month, check your progress. Celebrate your wins, note what caused setbacks, and adjust your strategies if needed.
  • Stay the Course
    The journey to success requires persistence. You will face challenges, but remember why you took this path. Stay committed, and The ONE Thing will drive your success. 


Accelerate Your Consulting Business

Get weekly tips on accelerating your consulting with
proven strategies, tactics, and systems and the power of AI.

Call To Action