Choose to be brilliant at ‘One Thing;’ powerful lessons from Gary Keller

Gary Keller really likes playing guitar, but it’s not his ‘big One Thing.’ (Photo by Mark Lankes)

You might think Gary Keller’s ‘One Thing’ is selling homes, or recruiting great real estate agents. He is, after all, the co-founder and chairman of Keller Williams Realty, which has 700 offices and has won the J.D. Power customer satisfaction top ratings for years.

Yet Keller is certain his greatest gifts are found elsewhere:  It’s teaching, whether by coaching or in the classroom at Baylor University. “My highest and best use is teaching. When I stray away and try to manage things, I”m not as effective,” said Keller, co-author of The One Thing, a new book about making outstanding choices.

When he was growing Keller Williams, he would go out at teach at community colleges and at the real estate schools. The people in his classes connected with him; “they either bought or sold real estate with me or they joined the company,” he recalled. He used his talent for teaching to grow his business into a behemoth.

These days, he is teaching through books and seminars and speaking. He wants to help people find their purpose, their “big One Thing.”

“Extraordinary results come from doing the right thing,” the one area where you truly excel, he said. That’s why he’s hired executives to lead Keller Williams since 1994.

My Quartz piece, gave three big lessons that anyone could learn from Keller and his new book, co-written by Jay Papasan. Here are three more that may resonate especially with creative types and writers who stop by here:

  1. Find your authentic voice.  Choose it so it works for your audience. “I write for my son,” said Keller. “I write everything for my son. …That’s how I get my authentic voice.” His son is 21, studying at the University of Georgia, and would not want a book filled with “hyperbole or sales pitches.”
  2. See the big picture and smaller pieces. This means understanding your life’s purpose and also your priorities for today and this week. We have to juggle multiple projects and several clients simultaneously. “We realize of course that there’s no such thing as One Thing,….It is a way of narrowing things down and making choices.  You can narrow down to what matters most,”  he said an interview.
  3. Ask yourself: How can your life really change the planet?  Said Keller: “Life is a question, and your choices are your answer.”  Choose the place where you will be extraordinary, where you will have thousands of believers and your bosses will find others to handle the less important tasks on your plate because they’re so impressed with your ‘One Thing.

“The smaller I make my life, the bigger it gets,” he said. Yet he has an amazing full life, with a business, a book, his wife, his guitars – those shown are in his office in Austin, Texas, and he has others at home, plus  dogs and charities – almost all  of them come from his eagerness to teach.

“Pick the one thing that your heart really soars with – it really gives you the greatest joy. Make that magnificent. It will make the greatest impact.”