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The ONE Thing

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Success is sequential. Focus on one thing (the one thing), don’t multi-task, and say no to things that aren’t essential.

Will power isn’t on will call. It’s a renewable, but scarce resource. It easily gets depleted and we need rest (usually a new day) to replenish it.

Self-discipline is overrated. To be disciplined at all times would mean to be superhuman. What works better is selective self-discipline used to make something a habit — and then that thing takes no effort and no discipline.

Make habits! It’s automation but for brains. It takes something like 60 days (2 months!) on average to create a habit (hard habits take longer!). So focus very hard but only on a single, manageable habit in that time.


Ask the focusing question: “What’s the one thing I can do to make everything easier or unnecessary”. Make a habit out of asking this question constantly, and in all aspects of your life, to guide you in your efforts.


Planning to the now: ask where you want to go, what you want to achieve someday.
Then ask what you want to achieve in the next 5 years so you’re on track to achieving what you want to achieve someday.
Then ask what you need to do next year to achieve the 5-year plan.
Then ask what you need to do next month to achieve that.
Then ask what you need to do this week.
Then ask what you need to do today.
Then ask what you need to do right now.
Then do that.

Setting up dominoes.


Block off time. What gets scheduled, gets done. Block off time every day for the most important meeting — a meeting with yourself, working on the most important thing.

1st priority: schedule time for rest and life. Schedule work around life, not life around work.
2nd priority, first thing in the morning: Your most important work.
3rd priority: planning (deliberately schedule your calendar for what’s most important)
Everything else takes what’s left.


Pursue mastery. Don’t think of it as a destination, rather, a journey. You’re the master of what you already know, and apprentice of what you don’t. Don’t stop learning.

10 000 hours of deliberate practice. Effort beats talent every time. You need to spend 4 hours 5 days a week over 10 years to achieve the level of mastery. (See also: So Good They Can’t Ignore You)


“Entrepreneurial” approach to challenges: do the best you can with enthusiasm. Then you hit your natural ceiling and get disappointed.

Purposeful approach to challenges: when you hit the ceiling, reconsider the strategy, look for new models and systems (and relationships, etc.), and break through the ceiling.

You can’t achieve great things if you stop at your natural ceiling and be satisfied with “okay” skill, “good enough” ability.

Deliberate Practice → Break through the ceiling


Be accountable. Take ownership of your results. You are ultimately responsible for your failures and successes. When things don’t work out, you be the one to find the solution and fix the problem. Don’t just be “along for the ride” — lead and be accountable.

Find an accountability partner or a coach. Preferably not a friend — someone who isn’t too supportive and will genuinely hold you accountable, point out weaknesses, and help when needed.


Four thieves of productivity:

Thief 1: Inability to say no. Say no. Saying yes to everything means you can’t do anything. Saying no to most things is only to support the one thing that matters. “No”. “No, for now”, “No, but X could help you”

Thief 2: Fear of chaos. When you’re focused and productive on the one thing, chaos is inevitable. Loose ends and small things that don’t get done. Embrace the chaos. Don’t sound the alarm every time the tiniest things steps out of order. Take a note and plow through.

Thief 3: Unhealthy lifestyle. Manage your energy. Start the day with meditation, healthy breakfast, exercise, and your loved ones. And remove all the distractions before you do those things (see 4).

Thief 4: An environment that doesn’t support your goals. If the people around you don’t support your goals, you can’t achieve them. It’s like walking through an alley of candy and trying to lose weight.

Successful people whose goals are aligned with yours will support you, lift you up, provide motivation, and help. That’s the positive spiral of success. Negative people who won’t support you and whose life is 180° opposite will leach energy from you and bring you down.

Remove distractions that prevent you from doing the work and building your habits.

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