Have you heard the saying, “How you practice is how you play?” If you played high school sports like I did, you probably had a coach who said that to the team. It seemed like everything we did — on the field or off — was important. Looking back, I can see what the coach meant. It’s an important way to look at work and life.
While you may not be suiting up for the next match, you are getting ready to meet a new client, hire a new vendor or serve a new customer.
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More recently than my high school years, I hired a business coach who also had a motto. She reminded me often, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Over the course of six months and 12 phone meetings, we talked through my client service initiative and support programs. Because of that, I’ve become hyper-aware of the need to pace myself through the process of improvement. There are two things I know:
1. Improvement doesn’t happen by accident.
Just like performance during the big game, we need to prepare, practice and review for our upcoming opportunities. One idea I’ll share with you is to review and reverse-engineer what you see other people in your industry doing. By slowing down and being very aware of what they’re doing, you’ll eventually speed up and often even surpass their results.
To learn more about blended-learning programs, I’ve registered for both free and paid programs over the past 10 years. You can find online courses on any topic you’re interested in from learning how to complete a triathlon, to becoming a better spouse, to improving the way you communicate and collaborate at work. Every course I’ve taken as two different people, both as the student learning what the teacher is providing as well as the executive coach I am to leaders worldwide.
Every time I complete one of the courses, I walk away with at least one idea to utilize in our own blended learning programs.
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2. Remember how long it took you to get to where you are.
Often, I coach entrepreneurs and business leaders who say they want to change they way they do things. Early in the coaching process, I not only meet with and interview the person I’m coaching, I also talk with their colleagues, their friends and even their spouse. Usually, I find the same thing. Whatever it is they are trying to change has been something they’ve tried to change before.
Not long ago, a woman I worked with said that for “as long as I know, I’ve always been ‘on time’ with everything I do. I need to get ahead. The stress of last-minute productivity is killing me.” She realized that although the effect of procrastination was working for her, the impact it was having on her mind (and her heart) was not as positive. She asked for my advice.
I prescribed to her the ultimate productivity pacing model, an approach to getting things done called “The 30/30 Rule.” This rule states that today you need to work for 30 minutes on something that isn’t due for at least 30 days from now. Open your calendar, and skip out to four, five or even six weeks from today. Look at what’s already there. What event did you commit to? What project needs to be done? What milestone are you working toward? Whatever it is, block 1,800 seconds and focus, focus, focus just on that one thing.
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If you were to practice the 30/30 Rule for just one month, can you imagine how far ahead you’d be? And, imagine what you’d start applying that process to besides just the big things that are due.
Remember, how you do anything could very well be how you do everything! Pace yourself, work on the future, and set yourself up to win more.