Lessons from Gary Keller

Achieve Success with Lessons from Gary Keller

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“Success is achieved by focusing on the one thing that moves the needle.”
– Gary Keller

Gary Keller, the co-founder and chairman of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., has shared valuable lessons in his book “The One Thing.” These lessons focus on simplifying tasks, narrowing down priorities, and leveraging the power of focus to achieve success in various aspects of life, including real estate, personal growth, and business strategies.

Key Takeaways:

  • Identify the one thing that can make everything else either seem easy or unnecessary.
  • Start small and narrow down goals to their most basic components.
  • Create a success list that prioritizes the most important and impactful actions.
  • Allocate specific time blocks for each task to enhance focus and productivity.
  • Prioritize high-income producing activities in the morning and managerial tasks in the afternoon.

The Power of One Thing

In his groundbreaking book “The One Thing,” Gary Keller explores the philosophy that can transform the way we approach our personal and professional lives. At the heart of this philosophy lies the idea of identifying priorities and simplifying tasks in order to achieve focus and success. By honing in on the one thing that truly matters, individuals can unlock their potential and accomplish remarkable results.

“The One Thing philosophy is about finding the one thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary.” – Gary Keller

By identifying priorities, individuals gain clarity on their goals and can allocate their time and energy accordingly. This allows for a more efficient and effective approach to tasks, as the focus is placed on what truly matters. During times when we may feel overwhelmed with multiple responsibilities and demands, the One Thing philosophy reminds us to concentrate on the most impactful actions. It helps bring clarity to the chaos and propels us towards success.

Simplifying tasks is also a crucial aspect of this philosophy. By breaking down complex projects and goals into manageable steps, individuals can eliminate unnecessary complications and streamline their actions. This enables a clearer path to success, as we can navigate through our tasks one step at a time, with a heightened focus on quality and efficiency.

The power of one thing lies in its ability to enhance our focus. Rather than spreading ourselves too thin or succumbing to distractions, we can direct our undivided attention to the essential task at hand. This level of concentration drives productivity, amplifies our efforts, and ultimately leads to greater success.

Whether we apply the One Thing philosophy to our personal lives or in the pursuit of professional goals, its principles resonate across all areas and disciplines. By embracing this philosophy, we can uncover our true potential and achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Identifying Priorities

To effectively implement the One Thing philosophy, it is crucial to identify our priorities. By focusing on what truly matters, we can allocate our time and resources towards activities that align with our goals and values. This clarity empowers us to make purposeful choices and direct our efforts towards the areas that will yield the greatest impact.

Simplifying Tasks

Simplifying tasks means breaking them down into more manageable and actionable steps. By taking a methodical approach and focusing on one task at a time, we can eliminate unnecessary complexity and increase our productivity. This simplification allows us to stay on track, accomplish more, and achieve success more efficiently.

Focus and Success

Focus is the bridge that connects prioritization and task simplification to achieving success. By harnessing the power of focus, we can direct our energy towards the most important actions, block out distractions, and bring our best selves to the task at hand. The result is heightened productivity, increased effectiveness, and a greater likelihood of accomplishing our goals.

Going Small for Big Results

When it comes to achieving our goals, it’s common to dream big. We envision the end result, the ultimate accomplishment that we strive for. However, according to Gary Keller, it’s essential to start small and narrow down our focus to the most basic components. By doing so, we can initiate a chain reaction, much like a domino effect, that leads to bigger and more significant results.

In his book, “The One Thing,” Keller emphasizes the power of accomplishing one small task at a time. Each completed task serves as a building block, propelling us forward toward our goals. It’s like setting the first domino in motion, knowing that it will trigger a sequence of actions that will eventually lead to the desired outcome.

By narrowing down our goals, we can concentrate our efforts and make tangible progress. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of our aspirations, we can break them down into manageable steps. This approach allows us to focus on the task at hand, giving it our full attention and dedication. As a result, we increase our chances of success and make steady progress towards achieving our goals.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

Moreover, going small for big results enables us to build momentum and maintain motivation. As we accomplish one task after another, we experience a sense of achievement and satisfaction. This positive reinforcement fuels our determination to continue moving forward, propelling us closer to our goals.

So, instead of merely dreaming big, let’s focus on narrowing down our goals and taking small, decisive actions. By embracing the domino effect of accomplishing one small task after another, we can achieve remarkable results and turn our dreams into reality.

Success Lists Instead of To-Do Lists

In his book, Gary Keller introduces the concept of success lists as a powerful alternative to traditional to-do lists. By leveraging the 80-20 principle, individuals can prioritize high-income producing activities and eliminate low-value tasks, maximizing their productivity and achieving greater results. Let’s explore how the 80-20 principle, prioritization, and success lists can revolutionize your approach to task management.

The 80-20 Principle: Maximizing Results

The 80-20 principle, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 20% of efforts contribute to 80% of the results. By focusing on the high-impact activities that generate the most income or produce the greatest results, individuals can significantly increase their productivity. Analyze your tasks and identify the 20% that truly matter, ensuring that your efforts are aligned with your goals.

Prioritization: Efficient Task Management

Prioritization is crucial for efficient task management. By categorizing tasks based on their importance and urgency, you can focus your time and energy on the activities that will have the greatest impact on your success. Determine which tasks will contribute the most to your high-income producing activities and prioritize them on your success list. This ensures that you are consistently moving towards your goals.

Creating the Success List

To create a success list, start by identifying your high-income producing activities. These are the tasks that directly generate income or contribute significantly to your success. Once you have identified these activities, prioritize them at the top of your success list. In addition, eliminate or delegate low-value tasks that do not align with your goals. This way, you can focus your time and energy on the tasks that truly matter and drive your success.

“Success is not about doing everything; it’s about doing the right things.”

By following the principles of the 80-20 principle and prioritization, you can create a success list that guides your daily actions. This list will keep you focused on the key tasks that will lead to the greatest results. Rather than overwhelming yourself with an endless to-do list, concentrate your efforts on the activities that will make a real difference in your success.

Time Blocks for Focus

In order to maximize productivity and minimize distractions, Gary Keller suggests implementing time blocks for each task. By dedicating uninterrupted periods of time to specific activities, individuals can maintain focus, increase efficiency, and produce higher quality work.

Effective time management plays a crucial role in achieving optimal productivity. By allocating dedicated time blocks, individuals can structure their day and ensure that important tasks receive the attention they deserve. Breaking the workday into manageable chunks allows for a more organized and systematic approach to completing tasks.

Proper task allocation is key to using time blocks effectively. During each time block, individuals should focus on one task or activity at a time, giving it their undivided attention. This practice avoids multitasking, which can lead to decreased productivity and reduced quality of work. By dedicating specific time slots to different tasks, individuals can maintain their momentum and flow, resulting in increased productivity.

Implementing time blocks for focused work enables individuals to dive deep into a task without interruptions. This level of concentration allows for better problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity, leading to improved overall outcomes. Whether it’s tackling a complex project or working on a creative endeavor, focused work produces higher quality results.

“Time blocking is a simple but powerful tool for increasing productivity. It helps you allocate specific periods of time to your most important tasks and ensures that you have dedicated, uninterrupted time to focus on them.” – Gary Keller

By setting aside dedicated time for each task and avoiding distractions, individuals can experience increased productivity. Time blocks provide a structure that encourages individuals to work efficiently, stay on track, and complete tasks within designated time frames.

Sample Time Blocking Schedule

Time Task
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM High-priority project
9:30 AM – 10:00 AM Break and refresh
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Client meetings
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Lunch and downtime
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Administrative tasks
3:00 PM – 3:30 PM Quick break and stretch
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM Strategic planning

Creating a time-blocking schedule that aligns with an individual’s priorities and responsibilities can greatly enhance their productivity and ensure focused work. By implementing this practice, individuals can optimize their time management, allocate tasks effectively, increase productivity, and achieve their goals with greater efficiency.

Be a Maker in the Morning, Manager in the Afternoon

According to Gary Keller, one of the key strategies for maximizing productivity is to be a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon. By prioritizing high-income producing activities during the morning hours, individuals can take advantage of their peak focus and cognitive abilities. This allows them to tackle tasks that require creativity and critical thinking, setting a productive tone for the rest of the day.

During the morning routine, it’s important to identify and focus on activities that directly contribute to generating income or achieving important goals. This might involve engaging in sales calls, working on high-priority projects, or brainstorming innovative ideas. By dedicating this valuable time to these high-value activities, individuals can make significant progress and have a positive impact on their success.

Throughout the afternoon, the focus should shift towards managerial tasks and delegation. This involves overseeing ongoing projects, communicating with team members or clients, and ensuring that everything is running smoothly. Delegating tasks to others who are qualified to handle them allows individuals to free up their time and energy for more high-level decision-making and strategic activities.

This divide between being a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon creates a balanced approach to productivity. By leveraging the morning’s peak mental state for creative and critical work, individuals can lay the foundation for success. Transitioning to managerial tasks in the afternoon ensures that important decisions are made and that work is effectively delegated, optimizing efficiency and allowing for personal growth.

To summarize, by prioritizing high-income producing activities in the morning and shifting focus to managerial tasks in the afternoon, individuals can enhance their productivity and achieve greater success. This approach allows for maximum utilization of peak cognitive abilities and ensures that important tasks are given the attention they deserve. By adopting this strategy, individuals can make the most of their time and contribute to their long-term goals.

The Power of Habits for Success

Gary Keller suggests that developing powerful habits is more effective than striving for discipline alone. By cultivating results-oriented habits that are directly linked to achieving desired outcomes, individuals can make consistent progress towards their goals. High achievers have mastered the art of habit formation, which plays a vital role in their enduring success.

Habits are deeply ingrained behaviors that are formed through consistent repetition. They enable individuals to pursue their goals with greater ease and efficiency. When it comes to achieving success, discipline alone may not always be enough. The key lies in developing the right habits that align with the desired results.

Successful individuals understand the importance of discipline and how it can be transformed into a habit. Rather than relying solely on willpower and motivation, they focus on creating a system of habits that consistently drive them towards their goals. This discipline-turned-habit allows them to perform at their best, day in and day out.

“Your discipline creates your discipline.” – Gary Keller

So how does habit formation work? It starts with identifying the behaviors and routines that are most closely associated with the results you want to achieve. Take a moment to reflect on the habits of high achievers in your field. What do they do consistently that sets them apart?

Once you have identified the habits that lead to success, it’s time to put them into practice. Start small and gradually build up. Remember, habits are formed by repetition, so consistency is key. Dedicate yourself to performing these habits daily, and over time, they will become a natural part of your routine.

It’s important to note that not all habits are created equal. Results-oriented habits are those that have a direct impact on achieving your specific goals. They are the habits that high achievers prioritize and focus on. By zeroing in on these habits, you can maximize your efforts and accelerate your progress.

Visualize the future version of yourself—the high achiever who has realized their goals. What habits does this person have? What actions do they take daily? By adopting these habits and integrating them into your own life, you can position yourself for success.

Developing results-oriented habits requires discipline and perseverance. It’s not always easy, but the rewards are immense. By consistently practicing these habits, you’ll find yourself making steady progress towards your goals, and success will become a natural byproduct of your daily routine.

Habit Formation Tips Benefits
Start with small habits – Build consistency
Link habits to specific goals – Stay focused on desired outcomes
Practice daily – Develop discipline
Monitor progress – Track your growth and improvement
Stay accountable – Find support and encouragement

Remember, high achievers didn’t become successful overnight. They built their success on a foundation of disciplined habit formation. By embracing this approach, you too can cultivate the habits necessary for achieving extraordinary results.

The Importance of Getting Started

To achieve success, it is crucial to overcome resistance and take action. Procrastination can hinder progress, but by getting started, even with small tasks, momentum can be built. Starting small allows for a gradual and steady progression towards long-term success. By taking that first step, individuals can break through barriers and pave the way for progress and growth.

Overcoming Resistance

Resistance often stems from fear, doubt, or uncertainty. It can prevent individuals from taking the necessary action to achieve their goals and dreams. However, by acknowledging and addressing these feelings, people can find the motivation and courage to push past resistance. Remember, every journey begins with a single step.

Taking Action

Action is the catalyst for change. Without action, goals remain as aspirations and progress stalls. Taking action, no matter how small, creates momentum and propels individuals forward on their path to success. It is through action that dreams turn into reality.

Starting Small

Starting small allows individuals to build confidence and competence over time. By breaking down larger goals into manageable tasks, the path to success becomes less overwhelming. Each small step forward contributes to progress and creates a sense of achievement, increasing motivation to continue moving forward.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain


Progress is the result of consistent effort and forward motion. By embracing the mindset of progress, individuals understand that every action, no matter how small, contributes to their overall journey. Celebrating milestones along the way reinforces the belief in one’s abilities, leading to further progress and growth.

Action Steps Benefits
Break down goals into smaller tasks Reduce overwhelm and increase clarity
Take action, no matter how small Build momentum and overcome resistance
Celebrate milestones and achievements Increase motivation and reinforce progress
Continually seek growth and improvement Unlock untapped potential and expand possibilities

The journey to success begins with getting started. By overcoming resistance, taking action, starting small, and making progress, individuals can set themselves on a pathway towards their goals and aspirations. Remember, every step forward, no matter how small, brings you closer to your desired destination.

Building Models for Success

When it comes to achieving success, one of the most valuable strategies is to build models that guide your journey. This involves learning from the accomplishments of others and adapting their strategies to suit your own circumstances and goals. By studying successful individuals and understanding the principles behind their achievements, you can create effective models that propel you towards success.

Embracing the concept of model building allows you to tap into the wisdom and experience of trailblazers who have already paved the way. Rather than starting from scratch, you can leverage their insights, strategies, and best practices to navigate your own path to success. By studying their approaches and adapting them to your unique situation, you can save time, avoid common pitfalls, and accelerate your progress.

Model Followers and Success

Becoming a model follower involves more than blindly copying someone else’s actions. It’s about understanding the underlying principles and adapting them to fit your own goals and circumstances. It’s about learning from the successes and failures of those who have gone before you and applying those lessons to create your own success story.

Model followers have the advantage of starting their journey one step ahead. They can avoid the trial and error that often comes with forging a new path and instead focus on implementing proven strategies. By leveraging the experiences of others, model followers can make informed decisions, capitalize on opportunities, and navigate obstacles more effectively.

Adaptation: The Key to Success

While models provide a blueprint for success, it’s important to remember that they are not one-size-fits-all solutions. Adaptation is the key to making models work for you. Your circumstances, goals, and strengths are unique, and it’s crucial to tailor any model to fit your specific needs.

Adapting a model involves analyzing its components and determining how they can be applied in your context. It requires understanding the underlying principles and finding creative ways to implement them within your own constraints. By adapting models to suit your situation, you can harness their power while ensuring they align with your values, strengths, and vision.

Building models for success is an iterative process. As you gain experience and insight, you can refine your models, discarding what doesn’t work and incorporating new strategies and perspectives. This continuous adaptation allows you to stay agile, navigate changing circumstances, and remain on the path towards achieving your goals.

“Success is not about reinventing the wheel; it’s about learning from those who have already built one.” – Unknown

Benefits of Building Models for Success Examples
Accelerated growth
By leveraging the strategies of successful individuals, you can fast-track your own progress towards success.
Learning from the career trajectory of Elon Musk to create a roadmap for your own entrepreneurial journey.
Reduced risks
Model building allows you to learn from the mistakes and failures of others, minimizing potential pitfalls on your own path.
Studying the failures of Kodak and Blockbuster to develop a forward-thinking digital marketing strategy.
Enhanced creativity
By exploring different models and adapting them to your own style, you can create innovative approaches that set you apart from the competition.
Combining the artistic techniques of van Gogh with modern digital media to develop a unique and captivating visual brand.
Expanded network
Building models often involves connecting with like-minded individuals, providing opportunities for collaboration and mentorship.
Attending industry conferences and events to build relationships with successful professionals in your field.

Focusing on the Most Important Thing

When it comes to achieving our goals and living a fulfilling life, the key lies in focusing on the most important thing. Gary Keller, in his book “The One Thing,” emphasizes the importance of clarity of goals and the end result. By having a clear vision of our long-term objectives, we can align our daily choices and actions accordingly.

Clarity of goals provides us with a sense of direction and purpose. It helps us prioritize our activities and make decisions that are in line with our ultimate aspirations. When we have a clear understanding of what we want to achieve, it becomes easier to filter out distractions and focus on tasks that truly matter.

By aligning our daily choices with our long-term goals, we ensure that each action we take moves us closer to our desired outcome. Every decision we make becomes a conscious step towards the life we envision. This intentional approach empowers us to make choices that are in alignment with our values and aspirations, leading to a more fulfilling and regret-free life.

Make every day count

Each day presents us with a unique opportunity to make progress towards our goals. It is important to be mindful of the choices we make on a daily basis, as they ultimately shape our future. When we prioritize the most important thing and consistently work towards it, we create a rhythm of progress and growth.

One way to stay focused and ensure that we are investing our time and energy wisely is by using the 80-20 principle. This principle suggests that 20% of our efforts yield 80% of the results. By identifying the key activities that contribute the most to our goals, we can focus on them and maximize our impact.

“Success is not about doing everything, but about doing the right things.”

– Gary Keller

Aligning Daily Choices with Goals

Daily Choice Goal Alignment
Waking up early to work on a passion project Aligns with personal growth goals
Scheduling dedicated time for high-priority tasks Aligns with productivity and success goals
Practicing self-care and prioritizing well-being Aligns with health and happiness goals

By making conscious choices that align with our goals, we create a life that reflects our deepest desires. Instead of succumbing to the distractions and demands of daily life, we take charge and design a path that leads to the fulfillment of our aspirations.

Visualizing our end result serves as a powerful motivator and keeps us committed to our journey. When we can clearly see the outcome we want to achieve, it becomes easier to overcome obstacles, stay resilient, and persist in the face of challenges.

Living a regret-free life is not about avoiding mistakes or failures. It is about embracing our goals, making daily choices that align with them, and taking consistent action towards their realization. When we focus on the most important thing and stay true to our vision, we pave the way for a life of purpose, fulfillment, and success.

The Benefit of Sequential Success

Gary Keller emphasizes the concept of sequential success, showcasing how it is built over time through consistent effort and skill development. Just like laying bricks, each small step and accomplishment contributes to the overall progress, leading to remarkable results.

Success over time is achieved by focusing on the one thing that truly matters and consistently working towards it. By diligently honing skills and continuously improving, individuals unlock their true potential and open doors to limitless possibilities.

Through skill development, individuals enhance their abilities and knowledge, preparing themselves for future challenges and opportunities. This compounding effort allows for exponential growth, as each new skill acquired adds to the foundation of success.

“Success is not a singular event; it is the result of consistent effort and the continuous development of skills. By embracing sequential success, we lay the groundwork for a future filled with geometric potential.”

The geometric potential of sequential success is seen in the compounding effect of efforts over time. Each small triumph builds upon the previous one, creating a momentum that propels individuals towards their goals with increasing speed and intensity.

By understanding and embracing the benefit of sequential success, individuals can shape their paths towards achievement, finding fulfillment, and reaching their fullest potential.


Lessons from Gary Keller’s book, “The One Thing,” provide valuable insights and teachings for achieving success in all aspects of life. Keller emphasizes the power of simplifying tasks, focusing on priorities, and harnessing the concentration which can unlock one’s true potential and lead to extraordinary results.

Whether you are looking to excel in real estate, personal growth, or business strategies, the principles shared by Gary Keller are adaptable and transformative. By incorporating Keller’s teachings into your daily life, you can pave the way for personal and professional growth, achieving the success you desire.

Don’t underestimate the impact of simplifying and narrowing down your goals, working on high-income producing activities, and managing your time effectively. These strategies, combined with powerful habits and taking consistent action, will propel you towards your goals and create a life with no regrets.

So, take the lessons from Gary Keller’s teachings to heart, and embark on a journey of personal growth, business success, and the realization of your true potential. By implementing these strategies, you can become the best version of yourself and achieve the success you’ve always dreamed of.

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  • Matthew Lee

    Matthew Lee is a distinguished Personal & Career Development Content Writer at ESS Global Training Solutions, where he leverages his extensive 15-year experience to create impactful content in the fields of psychology, business, personal and professional development. With a career dedicated to enlightening and empowering individuals and organizations, Matthew has become a pivotal figure in transforming lives through his insightful and practical guidance. His work is driven by a profound understanding of human behavior and market dynamics, enabling him to deliver content that is not only informative but also truly transformative.

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