The ONE Thing Book Summary - The ONE Thing Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The ONE Thing summary

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results

4.6 (743 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is a productivity book that argues that by prioritizing and focusing on one important task at a time, we can achieve extraordinary results and build momentum towards our ultimate goals.

Table of Contents

    The ONE Thing
    Summary of 12 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 12

    Failing to think big can limit your opportunities.

    When Arthur Guinness set up his first brewery, he clearly had grander plans than producing a few barrels of stout: he signed a 9,000 year lease on the building. Similarly, when J. K. Rowling conceived the idea of Harry Potter, she envisioned seven books about life at Hogwarts before she wrote even the first chapter of the first one.

    Both of these people went on to be extraordinarily successful, and this was in no small part because they were not afraid of thinking big: starting out with a grand vision of success before even beginning to work toward it. It’s hard to imagine that they would have achieved such great success had they failed to think so big in the first place. 

    Yet, for most people, the thought of big ideas or big achievements is daunting and has negative associations, such as feeling overwhelmed and intimidated. These negative thoughts often prevent people from thinking big.

    When we fail to think big and allow these negative associations to dominate us, our thinking shrinks and we lower our trajectories. We actively limit our potential achievement, condemning ourselves to mediocrity.

    Consider science and how much of its progress would have stalled if someone hadn’t dared to think of previously unimaginable possibilities, like that humans could breathe underwater, fly through the air or explore space. History tells us that we’ve done a remarkably poor job of estimating our limits, so we should not let the limits we perceive constrain our aspirations.

    Success requires action, and action requires thought. But in order to achieve extraordinary results, our actions have to be based on big thinking in the first place.

    Failing to think big can limit your opportunities.

    Want more?
    Read or listen to the key ideas
    from 7,000+ titles

    Key ideas in The ONE Thing

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The ONE Thing about?

    The ONE Thing (2013) helps you to discover your most important goal, and gives you tools to ensure you can use your time productively to get there. The book reveals that many of the maxims we accept as good practice are actually myths that only hinder our progress. It also provides advice on how to live your life with priority, purpose and productivity without sending other aspects of life out of balance, because this is the way to perform the kind of focused work that leads to great success.

    The ONE Thing Review

    The ONE Thing (2013) by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is a book that challenges readers to focus on one thing that will have the biggest impact in their lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with practical strategies and actionable tips, it provides a clear roadmap for achieving extraordinary results.
    • By identifying the domino effect that comes from focusing on one thing, the book helps readers simplify their lives and prioritize what truly matters.
    • The authors use compelling stories and research to back up their ideas, making the book engaging and thought-provoking.

    Best quote from The ONE Thing

    Dont let small thinking cut your life down to size. Think big, aim high, act bold.

    —Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
    example alt text

    Who should read The ONE Thing?

    • Anyone looking to improve their productivity
    • Anyone who has trouble finding time to commit to their goal
    • Anyone looking for greater clarity and purpose in their daily life

    About the Author

    Gary Keller is co-founder and chairman of the board of Keller Williams Realty International, a company he grew from a small office in Austin, Texas, to become the largest real estate company in the US. His previous three books formed the Millionaire Real Estate Series and have all been bestsellers.

    Jay Papasan is the executive editor and vice-president of publishing at Keller Williams Realty, and is the president of Rellek Publishing. He has also co-authored numerous bestselling books, including the Millionaire Real Estate Series.

    Categories with The ONE Thing

    Book summaries like The ONE Thing

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The ONE Thing FAQs 

    What is the main message of The ONE Thing?

    The main message of The ONE Thing is to focus on the most important task and eliminate distractions.

    How long does it take to read The ONE Thing?

    The reading time for The ONE Thing varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The ONE Thing a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The ONE Thing is worth reading as it provides valuable insights and practical steps for achieving success.

    Who is the author of The ONE Thing?

    The author of The ONE Thing is Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

    What to read after The ONE Thing?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The ONE Thing, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Deep Work by Cal Newport
    • Work Smarter, Not Harder by The Blinkist Team
    • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
    • So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport
    • Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
    • Effortless by Greg McKeown
    • Essentialism by Greg McKeown
    • Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven
    • All It Takes Is a Goal by Jon Acuff
    • Singletasking by Devora Zack