Gary Keller, the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty and author of “The Millionaire Real Estate Investor“, has most recently taken his coaching and speaking in the direction of life prioritization. An outcome of this is his 2012 book “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results“. The book is more business and life self-help than real estate specific, but it is also correspondingly of value to anyone who aspires to grow a business or achieve excellence in real estate investing.

Some people deride the book for its simplicity of message, but the book does grow more inspiring and tangible as it progresses. Early in the book, examples of famous people who rode to fame because of “One Thing” frankly stretch credibility by calling their approach “One Thing” that resulted in their success. I almost stopped reading the book when going through those examples, in fact. But after pushing on to test out more of the book, I was glad to complete it.

Keller starts out with the importance of focus, the classic 80/20 Pareto Rule (80% of your positive results come from focusing on 20% of your work or clients or such), and the limitations of too little time with seemingly too many random things to do. From there, before delving into how to achieve personal success, he informs the reader to beware top diversions from achieving success. His “Six Lies Between You and Success”:

  • Everything matters equally
  • Multitasking
  • A disciplined life
  • Willpower is always on will-call
  • A balanced life
  • Big is bad

You’ll notice that if some of the above are “lies” that do directly against the main thrust of other classic notions and business / self-help books.  And that is his intentional point.  He expands upon his concept that these “trusims” are not true at all, and actually hinder people by forcing them into hectic lives which don’t achieve key life drivers in the end.

To achieve personal goals, he posits that everyone should ask this Focusing Question everyday, and abide by its thoughtful response for at least half of their workday: “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary”?  Although deceptively simple, the practice and implementation of that as a lifestyle is much harder.  The rest of the book is devoted to implementing that one question to productive action.

He encourages a success habit of asking big questions that require big answers to the main question above.  If the answers or implementations come to easy, then you likely are not thinking big enough. Life purpose drives priority, which then drives productivity.  Setting up long range plans that break down to medium range, near term, and all the way to daily goals are what propels a person forward to actionable, incremental steps and clear future success.  Time blocking every day for the ONE Thing is the other key to this path of success.

He also encourages everyone to think in terms of mastery and accountability, all while moving away from being a busy entrepreneur and towards the ideal state of being a purposeful doer.  Along the way, the “Four Thieves of Productivity” must always be fought against:

  • Inability to say “no” (saying yes to something means you are saying no to something else, anyhow)
  • Fear of chaos (some things will not get done, others will actually be messier and less in control)
  • Poor health habits (exercise, sleep, nutrition)
  • Environment (people and atmosphere) doesn’t support your goals

As a coach himself who is also the student of other coaches, Keller advocates for coaching and supportive environments.  When these don’t exist, it is important to create that positive world around you.

All of this relates to real estate as it does for developing and growing any other business.  With increasing scale there is increasing complexity, which may lead investors astray from focusing on what builds their business and on what aims for the “why” of their business’ very existence.  Good advice and an inspiring, easy read that anyone can apply to adjust their life and focus for the better.