“I haven’t got time…”, “I’ll do it tomorrow…”, “It won’t matter if I miss it just this once”. All familiar phrases that could be attributed to many a situation: going to the gym, doing the garden, making that phone call, meeting up with friends. All situations where these phrases can often be heard – situations where we let ourselves off by coming up with an excuse not to do whatever it is we don’t really want to do. And what’s the most common excuse? Time! We all feel we never quite have enough of it and there is always something more important that needs our urgent attention.
This goes for our development too. There always seems to be something more important or easier to do and we often think that personal development means spending hours in a workshop or facing a difficult 1-2-1 session with a colleague. Well, that’s where you are wrong! All it takes is 10 minutes; you are only ever 10 minutes away from being your personal best and there are hundreds, make that thousands of exercises and activities to be your personal best that take less than 10 minutes. And by ‘personal best’ I don’t mean record-breaking, top-of-the-class, better than your team mates; I mean being the best that you can be in any given moment (… or in any given 10 minutes). I am going to share a few examples with you.
Learning to swim
My family and I were on holiday recently and our 3 children absolutely love the swimming pool. My eldest son can swim, but Joe (7) can’t. Seeing his older brother swimming inspired him; he now had an incentive to learn as he wanted to beat his brother! So, we set about teaching him by breaking the learning into parts and spreading each exercise across consecutive days. Firstly, he tried with armbands to practice the technique and approach. Secondly, with armbands removed, he practiced with a float held out in front of him. On day 3 he held onto the side of the pool and practiced kicking his legs for 30 seconds at a time and resting for 30 seconds before repeating. Next we went into the shallow end (so he could stand up) and swam with me holding him under his chest and stomach. Day 5 he practiced on his own, still in the shallow end, which he did for a few days. On day 8 he ventured into the ‘big’ pool. Goggles on, Avengers shorts donned he swam around 10 meters unaided across the pool! Awesome feeling! And yes, you guessed it, each day we spent around 10 minutes practising.
Back to work
We recently ran an afternoon focused on personal development at one of our clients. Around 40 people gathered into a spacious, modern room and we took to the floor to provide a performance learning experience (we literally took to the floor, as the room had a dance floor at the centre of it, but I’ll save that for another day). We focused on the 3 areas we feel are often talked about when thinking about personal development: ‘why bother’, ‘what’s stopping me’ and ‘making it stick’. We told some stories, shared some of our favourite quotes and videos from the likes of Dave Brailsford, Paula Radcliffe and Oprah Winfrey and asked delegates to work harder on themselves and support their colleagues. More importantly we shared a series of activities that could be immediately put into practice and took less than 10 minutes to repeat. These exercises could be run at work, home or even during your daily commute. Although some may not be suitable on a packed train!
Keep it simple
My final story returns to my family and our 3-year-old daughter. My wife has been taking her to French lessons and as well as making pizza, painting pictures and singing songs, she has been learning to speak the language. They do this in a great environment using images, music and other ways of anchoring feelings and emotions to the actual words. They taught my daughter a rhyme with actions to help her count to 10 and without this her mind may not have been able to simply remember the words. It means that instead of standing and reciting un, deux, trois etc. she can put some music on, pull on her dancing shoes and sing the numbers in her very own style. A great way to learn and yes takes less than 10 minutes.
You too are only 10 minutes from your personal best by practising lots of short activities. Each increment adds up to make a massive difference. These are the 1 percents that that could set you up for success and bring about lasting change. For hints, tips or a coffee and a chat, get in touch and start working harder on yourself today.