I could sum up The ONE Thing in just 3 words for anybody looking to improve any aspect of their life…
BEST. BOOK. EVER.
Of course, that’s not enough to get you to read this book for yourself, but it’s a good way to get you to at least read this review then decide on the book.
The ONE Thing
The ONE Thing seeks to help us de-clutter our lives and focus on the ONE Thing (at a time) that will lead to success. We’re often caught up in the minutiae of life (cleaning the garage, re-watching a movie, getting lost in YouTube) instead of doing the things that we know will lead us to success (writing the next blog post, recording a podcast, studying 3bet ranges).
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan (the co-authors) start us on the right track by showing through examples how focusing on ONE Thing at a time, and sequentially tackling bigger ONE Things has lead thousands of great companies to massive success. The stories of Starbucks (comfortable, cool coffee leads to crazy growth), Google (searching leads to internet dominance) and Star Wars (great movies leads to lots of $ in merchandise) show that focusing on a singular idea works.
The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, is the central focus of the book. The rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. This is a “provable, predictable certainty of nature.” This shows that we need to focus on a small number of things that will produce most of our results. An example for poker players would be studying and solidifying your opening ranges would yield more profits than perfecting your pre-flop 5 betting game. Everything that follows this in the book revolves around putting the 80/20 Rule into action.
They talk about “truthiness” and how many of the lies that we live our lives by are totally leading us astray. There are six lies in total, but the one I found the most applicable to myself is that there is such a thing as a Disciplined Life or a Disciplined Person.
Being a “disciplined person” is nothing more than instilling habits in your life. It takes an average of 67 days to firmly root a new habit in your life. Want to become a better cash poker player? Play cash 67 days in a row and spend 1 hour in hand history reviews each day for 67 days. Want to learn a new instrument, have better peace of mind, or get healthy? Play the instrument, meditate or exercise daily for 67 days in a row.
The book covers many other aspects of living a focused life:
- Asking great Questions leads to great Answers
- Living with Purpose, Priority and Productivity
- Choosing goals and committing to them
- The Four Thieves that rob us of our productivity
But the biggest takeaway from this book, the ONE Thing that I’ll implement for the rest of my life is The Focusing Question.
The ONE Thing – The Focusing Question
We all have a long list of crap we need to do, should do or could do. Take a look at yours right now. Mine is about 30 items long, from the super important (record another podcast) to the mundane (mop the kitchen floor). How do we figure out what we need to do vs what would be nice to do? (One of the lies the book speaks to is that everything matters equally, which is sure ’nuff a lie.) We ask ourselves The Focusing Question:
This one simple question, if asked with a clear goal in mind, will lead us to the ONE Thing that we need to do right now before all the others. That ONE Thing should make it easier or unnecessary to do other things. It’s the first step in a process of steps to achieving our goals.
To look at how I’m using this question to drive my life, I can get into why I’m writing this review right now. I want to release my podcast soon, and I want to build a backlog of recordings before January 4th. The first ONE Thing was to make a list of the podcast topics I’d like to discuss… Done. Next was to start doing them one at a time… Started. Now I’m up to my planned ‘The ONE Thing’ podcast and I need to write this review to crystallize my thoughts before I record the podcast… doing now. Once completed, I’ll record my ‘ONE Thing’ podcast episode… my ONE Thing tomorrow.
This of course can be applied to my poker learning as well. I started by asking myself what are the topics I should study first (taking into account where I’m at right now in poker) and I made a list of 15 items. Each item builds upon the previous so by the time I’m at the 15th item, I’ll be a much better poker player (that’s the plan at least). This is called the Domino Effect in the book. I’m on domino #3 right now, and I’m spending about 2 weeks on each item, digging in thoroughly and recording everything I’m learning, all of which will eventually be compiled into a book on poker strategy and learning.
The ONE Thing – Other Applications to Poker
- Go small to get big results – start with the small “foundational” strategies, get good at those, and build upon your skills.
- Focus on ONE Thing at a time – don’t study 3betting on Monday, river value-betting on Tuesday, cbetting on Wednesday then back to 3betting on Thursday. Stick with one area until you’ve nailed it then move on.
- Don’t blindly accept the poker rules others play by – what’s conventional strategy to all is just something to be exploited by those who are making an effort to do so.
- Lie: Will Power is Always on Will Call – as the day goes on we lose will power. Do the important stuff early in the day (the ONE Thing) then your other “to-do” list crap afterwards.
- Extraordinary results happen when you live with Purpose, by Priority and for Productivity – make a poker plan >>> prioritize what needs to be done >>> get it done.
To sum it all up I’ll just echo my sentiments from the beginning… BEST. BOOK. EVER. I guarantee you’ll get more from this book than you have from any other self-improvement book you’ve read.
Until next time, ask yourself the Focusing Question everyday, and knock over them dominoes one at a time on your way to poker excellence.