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posted: 10/12/2017 1:00 AM

‘The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results’

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  • blue letters flying out of an open book with bright colors

    blue letters flying out of an open book with bright colors


You may remember that scene in the movie "City Slickers" when the character played by the late, great Jack Palance, holding up his index finger, advises Billy Crystal's character that to discover the meaning of life, he has to find "the one thing." When pressed to tell the city slickers what that one thing is, the wise old cowboy says, "That's what you've got to figure out."

Author Gary Keller, the real estate mogul, and his colleague and co-writer Jay Papasan tell us the same thing in their best-selling book The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results (Bard Press). They advise us that in order to have big lives filled with all that we desire -- meaningful work, robust health, loving families and friends -- we need to, paradoxically, "go small." The authors challenge us to ask ourselves, and our teams, the question, "What's the ONE thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?"

The book is a simple but powerful formula for success, first uncovering the lies that derail us (the myth of multi-tasking is the biggest one), then offering "The Truth," including a discussion about the time it takes to form a habit (longer than you think). Keller and Papasan draw on a wealth of research to support their theories about the tenuous timing of willpower, the domino effect and staying on track. They close the book with a section on how to achieve extraordinary results through living with purpose, priority and productivity while honoring our commitments and avoiding the thieves that rob us of our time, our vision and our joy.

The authors offer additional free resources at including links to podcasts and webinars, a 66-Day Challenge Calendar and graphics that illustrate the principles in the book. These resources and the book remind us that only by narrowing our focus to what's important to us -- that one thing that would make a difference in our businesses, our families and our communities -- can we achieve the goals that make us truly rich.

• Vickie Austin is a business and career coach, author and professional speaker. She hosts "Biz Books Review" the third Tuesday of every month at the Wheaton Public Library. You can reach her at and on LinkedIn or Twitter (@Vickie_Austin).