Book Review: The one thing

Image result for one thing book 
Author: Gary Keller, Jay Papasan
‘The one thing’ is the one book you read to know all that is required to be successful. When I saw the chapters I thought it was going to be just another book with the same old stuff. The content is same. Not denying it. But every page in the book is meant to motivate the reader. The chapters are in perfect order to set the context. There are a few perfect examples to etch the concept in readers minds. And there are also exercises for you to think about your one thing. Overall, it was interesting. I didn’t feel like putting down the book at all.
The book starts with this wonderful quote:

“If you chase two rabbits you will not catch even one.”

And each chapter starts with a quote. 
Some of my favourites:

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one till you get there.”

“Success demands singleness of purpose.”

And there are many more in the book.
To make it easy for the readers, the book has been classified into 3 parts. He tells you the lies which derail you. The truth which helps you get back to focus. Finally, the extraordinary results which are got by ditching the lies and embracing the truth.
Ch1: The one thing
If you have 10 things to fix, think about the one thing which is going to make everything else easy. Go to the smallest thing.
Ch2:Domino effect 
Success builds on one thing at a time. Prioritize things for the day. And the one thing is going to get dominoes started.
Ch3: Success leaves clues
He gives a lot of examples to show how people or organizations who followed one thing were successful. Identify your one thing. If you don’t know the one thing, that itself is the one thing you need to do. No one is self made. Passion and skill can be made into one.
Part 1: Lies : They mislead and derail us
Ch 4: Everything Matters Equally

  • ·        Activity doesn’t mean productivity.
  • ·        The things which are important don’t always shout the loudest
  • ·        The dark side of to-do lists are the trivial things which catch our    attention. There is no sequence in general.
  • ·        Success lists help you build the stones for your success
  • ·        A to-do list becomes success list only when you prioritize it
  • ·        Thing big, go small

Ch 5: Multitasking
          Multitasking is about screwing up more than one activity at a time.
Ch 6: Discipline
  • ·        Success is about doing the right thing and not everything right
  • ·        You can’t be disciplined in everything. Just select the one which matters      for you and make habits around it
  • ·        Hard stuff becomes habit and habit makes the hard stuff easy
  • ·        On an average it takes 66 days to make a habit
  • ·        Selective discipline is what is required
  • ·        Build one habit at a time, habits are sequential not simultaneous
Ch 7: Will power
  • ·        Will power is not on will call
  • ·        It’s a limited renewable resource
  • ·        Food for thought- complex carbs and protein
  • ·        Taxes on will power
  • ·        Time your task

Ch 8:A balanced life
  • ·        Unattainable pipe dream
  • ·        Purpose, significance and meaning make life successful
  • ·        Magic never happens in the middle. Magic happens at the extremes
  • ·        Counter balancing done well gives illusion of balance

Ch 9: Big is bad
We are kept from our goal not because of obstacles but a clear path to less important goal
Part 2: The truth –Simple path to productivity
Be careful how you interpret the world. It is like that.
Ch 10: Focusing question
  • ·       What is the one thing I can do
  • ·        Such that by doing it
  • ·        Everything will be easy or unnecessary

Ch 11: The success habit
     Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.
Ch 12:The path to great answers
Image result for great question matrix
Part 3: Extraordinary results- Unlocking the possibilities within you
Ch 13: Live with purpose
Life isn’t about finding yourself it is about creating yourself.
Ch 14: Live by priority
·        Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now
·        Live with purpose then you know where to go
·        Live by priority you know what to do to get there
·        Hyperbolic discounting
·        Lining up your dominoes – goal setting to the now
Ch 15: Live for productivity
·        Block your calendar first for vacations and then for one thing
·        Protect your time block
Ch 16: The three commitments
·        Nobody whoever gave his best regretted it
·        The commitments
1.      Seek mastery
2.    Seek best ways of doing it
3.    Willing to be held accountable
Ch 17: The four thieves
·        Focus is a matter of what things you are not going to do
·        The four thieves are
1.      Inability to Say “No”
2.    Fear of Chaos
3.    Poor Health Habits
4.    Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals
·        Don’t be a victim of your circumstances
Ch 18: The journey
·        Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go
·        There are two wolves inside you – the one you feed is what grows
Ch 19: Putting the one thing to work
       Start thinking about the one thing which helps you in different aspects of life. 
    Happy discovering your one thing !

Book Review: The Last Lecture

Image result for last lecture
Randy Pausch wrote this book based on the last lecture he delivered in Carnegie Melon University. I don’t want to identify him with his profession but with the life he lived. There are many others who had lived a life like him but he left a book for us to learn a lot from how he lived. The author talks about head fakes in the book. He said that last lecture was a head fake and the book was actually meant for his children. His children might have already been brought up that way. And I am sure they don’t need a book to know it all. The head fake for me was he was being a mentor and personal coach for a lot of people even after his death. The book was not a self-help book where there are pointers on how to live life. It was about how he lived a beautiful life and why it is possible for others too. I felt so connected to it that I had goose bumps while reading a few sentences. I wish I knew a person like him in real life.
Even if some of the lessons mentioned in the book are clichés, they are useful ones written in an interesting way.


Randy Pausch said that he won the parent lottery. Their family hardly went for movies or dinner. Instead, he was asked to watch TV or better pick a book from library. I could instantly relate to it and till this day I don’t understand the happiness of going out for movies or dinner.

Offering advice:

Once a friend was giving me feedback on the mistakes I made but I was not paying proper attention. He said that when I read the same from a book, I come back and tell him that whatever he said was true. Randy has mentioned the same.

If you offer wisdom from third party it seems less arrogant

Being in a powerful position:

Most of us crave for an upper hand. Once we get that we forget from we came and exploit the present situation to our needs which is against ethics.
Randy says

If you had strength in any position you have to play fair

Parents and kids:

Kids need to know that their parents love them. Parents need not be alive for that. He had done whatever he could for his kids to feel his love after he was gone.
His parents allowed him to paint his room with symbols which were close to him.Allow your children to unleash their creativity. Children have their own dreams. It is okay to let your children stay awake past their bed times.
Rules he had with his nephew and niece:
  • No whining
  • Don’t tell mom

Learning a sport:

He says that

We should send our kids to learn some sport – because it teaches perseverance, team work, sportsmanship, value of hard-work, ability to deal with adversity.

My parents used to say the same. They sent me for summer camps not out of the expectations that I will be learning a new skill there. They just wanted me to learn how to mingle with people and work with them.


  • Balance in life between aspiration and pragmatism.
  • Money spent on going to moon helps in making scientists dream big. You are inspiring even poor people to dream big.
  • If you want something bad enough, never give up on it
  • Brick walls are there for a reason: they show us how badly we want something


Many times when we apologize, it will make us look like an emotional slave or it might even turn out that we are asking for an apology in return. According to him,
Proper apologies have 3 parts:
1.      What I did was wrong
2.    I feel badly that I hurt you
3.    How do I make this better

Self-esteem : 

These days parents are so protective of their children. He has a very important advice for such parents. He says

Self esteem can’t be given, it is something you have to build.Give them something they can’t do, they work hard for it and earn it. 

Tough love:

A Dutch uncle is a person who gives you honest feedback. Every one should have such a person in their life.At times, my mentor is hard on me. He initially told me that tough love will make go a long way in life. I sometimes feel bad when he is too harsh with me even though I know it is for my good. Randy says

If someone is not being hard on you, it means they have given up on you

So next time someone is harsh with you, remember that it is out of love.

Team work:

A few nuggets:
  • Have something to bring to the table. It will make you more welcome.
  • Fancy stuff is not going to work without the fundamentals
  • Meet people properly
  • Make sure that you can pronounce their names
  • Find things in common. If there is nothing, weather is an all time common topic.
  • Have optimal meeting conditions
  • Let everyone talk. Don’t cut off people. Don’t talk faster or longer
  • Praise each other
  • Phrase alternatives as questions and not statements
  • Sit with groups and not friends in the classroom.
  • How closely people are standing tells how close they are
  • Team work is very important for the success of the project
  • Rate each other through constructive feedback
  • Optimism is thinking you are at 25 when you are in the bottom quartile

People relations:

People are more important than things.

You can tell a lot about the person just by this statement.

 When we are connected to others we become better people.

Human beings are social beings. Connections only make us better.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask

I found this statement highly useful. I have used it in multiple situations and learnt that how we look at situations changes a lot just by asking instead of assuming.

When you can’t pay back, pay it forward.

I don’t know a way to pay the people who induced wisdom in me. I pay forward by sharing that wisdom with others.


  • You don’t repair things if they still do what they are supposed to do
  • Automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B.
  • You buy new clothes when your old clothes wear out.

Time and Productivity:

  • Time is more valuable than money
  • Time is all what you have. And you may find one day that you have less than what you think
  • File everything in alphabetical order
  • Delegate tasks
  • Keep phone calls short


A professor’s job is teach students how to see their minds growing like how they can notice their muscles growing.

Success and failure

  • Luck is indeed when preparation meets opportunity
  • It’s how hard you get hit and keep moving forward
  • Experience is what we get when we don’t get what we wanted
  • First penguin is the one who knows how to fail galoriously
  • Failures know how to not fail again.Successful people don’t know the pitfalls.

A few more interesting lessons:

  • Treat the disease and not the symptoms. 
  • Stop thinking about what others think of you.It makes you 33% more effective.
  • When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, just look at their actions and not on what they say.
  • Find unique ways to get things done
  • Always carry sufficient amount of money
  • Be over prepared
  • Be an optimist but think of worst case scenario too
  • Your patience will be both appreciated and rewarded
  • You can’t get away with lies
  • Institutions should and can have a heart
  • If you find your footing in two worlds you can have best of both
  • Rights and responsibities go hand in hand
In short, it is a book to be read over and again, till we internalize the lessons. It is a great feeling to live to the fullest. It proves again that it is not always the length of the life but quality of life which matters.
Happy Reading!