The ONE Thing that matters most

Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The ONE Thing is available at Monument Books in Phnom Penh. GT2/Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan

Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan on Garry Keller’s latest book, with Jay Papasan. If things feel as though they are a bit off track in your life right now, then Keller’s ‘The ONE Thing’ is a must-read.

Last week, I had to say a tearful goodbye to one of Good Times2’s most popular columnists Rafii H. Ramon. His final column was titled: “Digital Minimalism” and Rafii told his fans that he was giving up the column to really focus on things that matter in his life.

“Digital minimalism is about living with intention. We make room, give enough space and time for the things we love and eliminate whatever that distracts us from them,” he writes in his final opus column. Rafii writes about “rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with our inner selves through regular periods of solitude” to focus on the ONE THING that matters most.

Last fortnight, I was on the verge of a breakdown. After giving my best in the design of the cover and inside pages of the special International Women’s Day edition of Good Times2, my creative designer and I were completely drained. Then came the Facebook incessant messenger calls: “What do you think of my pictures for next week. Are they okay? You know I have this dream of writing in the first person, can I?” “Sure,” I answer. But then the calls kept coming in. I resort to the only choice available: My iPhone is turned to airplane mode – no incoming calls, no messages, no internet, no whatever…Peace finally and the baby, wife and cat are happy. Yes, FAMILY TIME! That was supposed to be THE ONE THING I was supposed to focus on after putting the weekend edition to bed. Instead, I couldn’t get myself to say NO to things and allowed distractors to get the better of me.

‘The ONE Thing – The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results’ is a self-help, life-improvement masterpiece by Gary Keller, with Jay Papasan.

In the introductory chapter to ‘The ONE Thing’, Keller writes: “The problem is we tend to act on what we believe isn’t anything we should. As a result, buying into The ONE Thing becomes difficult because we’ve unfortunately brought into too many others – and more often than not “other things” muddle our thinking, misguide our actions, and sidetrack our success.”

Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas, and the founder of Keller Williams, which is the largest real estate company in the world by agent count, closed sales volume, and units sold. Close friends of mine in the real estate sector have attended Keller’s and Papasan’s workshops and seminars in the US and can testify to their life-changing experience.

So what’s The ONE Thing strategy all about? It could be anything that you’ve written down – yes, written down! – in your to-do-list. You then narrow it down to The ONE Thing that you need to do NOW – as emphasised by Eckhart Tolle in ‘The Power of Now’. The ONE Thing could be finding a better paying job, improving your productivity at work, working more creatively, seeking more meaning in your spiritual life, seeking a vision and a purpose in life, spending more time with your family and so forth. You distill your actions to focus on The ONE Thing, letting go of everything else.

The beauty of Keller’s ‘The ONE Thing’ is that the self-help book has resources that you can easily put to work for you. I found that the chapter on time-blocking makes a lot of sense when it comes to productivity.

“Take time off. Block out long weekends and long vacations, then take them. You’ll be more rested, more relaxed and more productive. Everything needs rest to function better, and you’re no different,” writes Keller.

He certainly minces no words when he describes bosses and managers who violate this rule as: “They are not your role models.” And on those managers who sleep less than eight hours a night and bombard you with emails in the wee hours of the morning, he refers to them as “nature’s freaks”.

“The most productive people, the ones who experience extraordinary results, design their days around doing their ONE Thing. Their most important appointment each day is with themselves and they never miss it,” writes Keller.

Keller recommends 5 steps in your daily energy plan:

1. Meditate and pray for spiritual energy

2. Eat right, exercise, and sleep sufficiently for physical energy

3. Hug, kiss, and laugh with loved ones for emotional energy

4. Set goals, plan and calendar for mental energy

5. Time block your ONE Thing for business energy

Sometimes it’s hard to say NO but it’s necessary.

The productivity secret of this plan is that “when you spend the early hours energizing yourself, you get pulled through the rest of the day with little additional effort.”

Finally, a word of advice from Keller, “Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.

“Knocking out a hundred tasks for whatever reason is a poor substitute for doing even one task that is meaningful. Not everything matters equally, and success isn’t a game won by whoever does the most. Yet that is exactly how most play on a daily basis.”

‘The ONE Thing’ is a must read if you’re struggling to declutter, finding it difficult to say no to people, and grappling with your life’s purpose and priority.


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