Setting the World on Fire: Putting The ONE Thing to Work

Feb 24, 2013 6:13:06 AM

On the final morning of Family Reunion, as a capstone to the week’s lessons on The ONE Thing, Gary Keller shared his thoughts on how to put the book’s teachings into action.

“Family Reunion is like a buffet,” Keller said. “It’s all here. But it’s not all here so you can do it all – it’s here so you can choose.” Keller said he’d be happy if an associate attended only a handful of sessions and then focused purposefully on implementing what he or she learned. “The people who rush to everything are just sampling everything on the buffet.”


To help associates make connections between the book’s teachings and their everyday lives, Keller drew heavily on his personal experiences.

“I was made vice president at the age of 25 because I needed to be the best recruiter,” Keller said. “I didn’t show up to parties. I defied everything about team building. I did ONE Thing and kicked their butts. And then I went home to be with my family.”

Keller confessed that doing ONE Thing well may mean you do lots of things poorly. “I do my ONE Thing and I make sure it gets done,” he said. “But I’m literally not good at other things. Some people just don’t understand that when you major in the minors, you win.”

Keller also talked about the challenges of balancing your focus on the ONE Thing with your responsibilities to your friends and family, noting that even he has to let his ONE Thing go to counterbalance his life with his work. “Sometimes you need to be in the moment,” he said. “My wife and I love each other and are best friends. But sometimes she looks at me like, ‘You’re really dragging me to another concert?’ And I’ll watch that blasted show that she loves and I hate (‘Law & Order’) even though it runs counter to my personality.”

Keller used his son John’s experiences in college to illustrate how the ONE thing works on a daily basis. When Keller would ask his son a variation of the focusing question (“What’s the ONE Thing you can do right now to make everything easier?), his son might say, “Well, I can go to the library.” “There you have it,” Keller would reply. “John, I love you. Now hang up and go to the library.”

Keller also shared the story of the funeral for his father-in-law, a simple farmer who touched many lives. “We all decided to write a letter to include in the casket,” Keller said. “After a while, we started comparing notes. And we’d all written the same thing. Each of us should strive to be the kind of person that people can say ONE extraordinary thing about.”

Keller concluded his session by talking about how to start a fire with a magnifying glass. “It doesn’t work unless you’re patient and focus on one spot,” he said. “My wish for each of you is that you leave here and set the world on fire – spiritually, personally and professionally – by focusing on your ONE Thing.”


In the final chapter of The ONE Thing, Keller offers a series of questions to prompt readers to focus on particular areas of their life. Here are a few examples. Let us know what your ONE Thing is in the comments section below!

Your Personal Life

  • - What’s the ONE Thing I can do this week to discover or affirm my life’s purpose?
  • - What’s the ONE Thing I can do in 90 days to get in the physical shape I want?

Your Family

  • - What’s the ONE Thing we can do this week to improve our marriage?
  • - What’s the ONE Thing we can do to make our next vacation the best ever?

Your Job

  • - What’s the ONE Thing I can do today to complete my current project ahead of schedule?
  • - What’s the ONE Thing I can do every day to finish my work and still get home on time?

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