The One Thing By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

I was introduced to the book The One Thing by a fellow entrepreneur who was a guest on our podcast. I am always on the lookout for books that can deliver amazing value while maintaining a level of enjoyment. Since the interview, we have had several other guests point to The One Thing as the book that revolutionized their lives. I thought to myself, how could a book with such a simple and unassuming title, could be responsible for transforming people’s lives?

I quickly realized why the book resonated with so many entrepreneurs. To me, the message was simple. Focus on that one big thing, narrow your concentration to one thing, and when your focus fluctuates, your success will also. As Gary stated in the book, my light went on also.

In our current environment, it is a badge of honor for an entrepreneur to assume multiple tasks and responsibilities throughout the day. They tend to focus on too many tasks, and this loss of focus leads to diminished success. “Going small” in the book refers to ignoring all these tasks and focusing on what you should do. Big success comes when we do a few things well. When you can go as small as possible, Gary states “that you will be staring at one thing. And that’s the point”.

Luckily, for Jake and myself, we stumbled upon this principle early on in investing. We chose to focus on one specific real estate niche, multifamily investing, and even more precise, mom and pop apartments. We elected not to broaden our investment criteria to include wholesaling, fix and flip or single-family homes. We chose to concentrate on multifamily, which allowed us to become very knowledgeable in the space, and focus on only that asset class. We even selected the market and the types of assets to target.

In the book, Gary gives many examples of individuals who harness the one thing. Bill Gates can credit his massive success at Microsoft to his one thing, computer programming. His success did not end with Microsoft. He started a foundation to do “One Thing”, and most of the money that is collected for the foundation is channeled to their Global Health Program.

Gary hammers away at the misconception of multitasking. We buy into the lie that we all need to multitask and accomplish several things at a time. As humans, we can do two things at once, but it is nearly impossible to focus on two things at once. Have you ever gotten that feeling of being in the groove and everything is clicking? I bet that you are highly focused on the task at hand and that you have developed a rhythm.

I am in total agreement with the authors when they discuss success. They state that success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right. The secret to success is to choose the right habit and become disciplined enough to form the habit. The authors point to Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, who was able to create a discipline about training and being in the pool every day of the year. When he formed this discipline to train, it paid off immensely for him.

Let me leave you with this quote from the book. “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” F.M. Alexander

One of the habits that you need to form is to become a voracious reader. Begin your reading habit by picking up a copy of the The One Thing and start to focus on YOUR one thing. The book has allowed me to focus on my one thing, develop powerful habits and achieve a sense of purpose and joy in my life because I am constantly striving for my one thing.