I taught Sunday School this last weekend, and the bible verse was Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” I was thinking about how this applies to so many things. It applies to handling money, building trust, growing a business, completing homework, and personal discipline, which is what I want to focus on this for this post.
I believe that to be disciplined in the big things that matter, we must also be disciplined in the small things that seemingly don’t. For example, if you want to be healthy, which is a big thing, taking a lot of discipline, you must start with a smaller discipline, like throwing out all the candy or getting out of bed on time. To get out of bed on time requires the discipline to go to bed on time. And, going to bed on time requires the discipline to stop watching TV, reading, etc.
Personal discipline is built one small piece at a time and grows into something exponentially greater. It’s like a muscle that must be worked over and over again so that it can be used at will.
As the end of 2017 is closing in, I find myself preparing for an intense and rewarding 2018. I know that to accomplish my goals for 2018 I’m going to have to get a lot done, and doing that will require extreme and intense personal discipline. In 2018 I want to be the healthiest I have ever been physically. I want to do see Sideways8 and 48in48 grow exponentially. I want to eat dinner with my family at the kitchen table 85% of the time (minimum), and I want to be the most amazing husband and father that I can be.
To do all of that I had better get my butt in gear. I need to be up early every day, seven days a week. I need to be in bed early. I need to read a ton, write a ton, and meet with a lot of people. I need to finish my work at 5pm sharp and work in date lunches and dinners with my wife.
I am preparing now for an intense and amazing year. That preparation starts with discipline, which starts with the small things. I will execute on the small things today so that I can execute on the big things tomorrow.
It’s early morning, and the alarm goes off. A million thoughts stream through your mind as to why you don’t need to get up yet. It’s too cold to run. You don’t have what you need to get your task done. You didn’t sleep well last night because a kid/animal/person/noise woke you up and you couldn’t go back to sleep. You talk yourself into staying in bed. Then, later in the day, once you are thinking clearly, you regret that decision.
Sound familiar? I know it does for me. The night before I need to be up early I will make plans while I’m thinking clearly and I know what needs to be done the next day. But, when the next day arrives my thinking is foggy, and I second guess those plans, opting instead for the immediate gratification of another hours sleep.
Your future self can’t be trusted, so make plans for your immediate future now and stick to them no matter what. You can be sure that your future self will be lazy, unmotivated, unhappy, tired, irritable, sore or have some other ailment that will allow you not to get done what you know needs to be done. Your future self will inevitably falter, second guess, replan, rehash and just plain ignore what you have planned to be done. Your future self is weak.
Your current self (now), looking into the immediate future (the next 24-hours) is always going to make a better choice in how to spend your time than your future self will. Knowing this, the only way to be sure that the most important things get done is to plan ahead, and when that time comes ignore that weak future self and get the job done.
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
I’m reading 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse and enjoying it. One of the first things Kevin talks about is the limited number of minutes in a day and how that is one of the only things that you have that you can never get back. He also had a part in the book listing off some of the things you can do in one minute. If you think about it, you can do a lot in one minute, and some of those things are far more valuable than others. Here are some lists I have come up with.
Highly valuable things I can do in one minute:
- Tell my wife I love her
- Show my kids attention and affection
- Write an encouraging note or email
- Read one-page of a book that can impact me
- Declutter my desk or some other flat surface
- Send an encouraging text to a friend
- Write out ten things I’m thankful for
Less valuable things I often do in one minute (or more):
- Play a smartphone game
- Read an article I don’t care about
- Veg out to a video I don’t care about
- Surf Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I think you get the idea. Kevin’s point is that successful people are aware of how they spend their minutes. And, they choose to spend those minutes on things that matter and move the ball forward rather than things that don’t. I’m learning to be more aware of how I spend my minutes.
Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash
It happened again in embarrassing fashion. I was in a social situation on Sunday with someone I had met several times. It was just him and me and our kids, so lots of interaction. We had run into one another accidentally but were now off on an adventure together with our boys kayaking at Stone Mountain. The only problem was, I couldn’t remember this guy’s name! It was terrible! So what did I do? I did the only thing I could do, the unthinkable. I asked him his name for probably the fourth time and made sure I remembered it this time. It was awful. It was embarrassing. I am going to make sure that never happens again. Here’s how.
I have had a sneaking suspicion for some time now that I am under utilizing my brain (insert snarky joke here) and my memory in particular. I know there are ways to improve mental cognition and ways to dramatically improve memory, but I have never taken the time to learn them and use them properly. That ended today.
I am publically announcing my goal to take my memory seriously. I want to be able to do the following within the next two months:
- Remember all names and faces of people I meet. ALL OF THEM! I want to be able to memorize the name of every person at a 48in48 event. That should be about 100 – 150 names. I want to do this so that people will know that I care about them and that they matter to me when I meet them.
- Be able to memorize the order of a deck of cards. I know, it’s dumb, but I want to prove to myself that I can do it, so I’m going to give it a shot.
I’m committing to this publically so that I can be accountable. I want to be able to do this by the end of October or sooner.
In light of this new goal, I started listening to the audio book Quantum Memory by Dominic O’Brien this morning. While the book is a little hooky in the beginning, after listening to it for 30 minutes and going through one exercise, I was able to remember a list of 10 completely unrelated items in order and repeat them back both forwards and backward. In fact, here is the list (from memory).
That was the list I learned from the book at 7am this morning, and I was easily able to recall it now at 10:36am. So far, I’m impressed with this book. On to the next adventure!
I have a workout app that I love. In fact, I have made it my app recommendation on my podcast because I’m impressed with it. But, I haven’t rated it on iTunes and likely won’t. Why? Because when the app asks me for a rating, it asks at the wrong time and in the wrong context.
The app always asks for a rating after I finish a workout and log it. At that point in time, I’m tired and am literally walking out the door of the gym ready to do the next thing for my day. That is not a time that I will sit down and write a review and isn’t the best location to knock out a review either. The context is wrong for me to do it, the timing is bad for me to do it, and so, I don’t do it.
My kids make this same mistake often. They ask a good question but at a terrible time or the wrong place (context). For example, my son kept wanting us to buy him a specific fidget spinner last school year. He would ask over and over, but when he would ask it would be late at night when it was already past his bedtime and too late for us to find it online together. Or, he would ask when we were in the car going somewhere, not the best time to sit down and search Amazon together. It took him a long time to get what he wanted, simply because he asked at the wrong time and in the wrong context.
As I think about this, I have to wonder where I’m missing success for these same reasons. Often success is about being at the right place at the right time. So, in the things I’m looking to accomplish I’m wondering, is my timing right? Is the context right? And, if not, how can I fix it?
When I was in college, I didn’t know my professors. I was the kid that would sit in the back of the class, half listen to the lectures (because I preferred to read the material) and then leave without speaking to the professor after class. At the time this seemed like a great strategy for flying under the radar. What I realize now is that, while it was a great way to fly under the radar, it also held me back from achieving at my highest level.
If I had been known by my professors, I would have worked harder. This was always true in school before that, every teacher that knew me got my best work, as opposed to the teachers that barely knew my name.
Being known gives us a sense of responsibility and accountability that we would not otherwise have. It doesn’t just apply to being known by people in leadership over us but also applies to peer relationships where accountability and responsibility are needed. When I’m working toward something that I want to be held accountable to, I tell people about it, so I am more motivated to get it done. Sometimes I will even blog about what I’m working on as motivation to perform at a high level.
The more we are known by one another, the more we share our hopes and dreams and even our struggles, the more we will be motivated to work hard, to perform, to achieve. When we are known we are not just another face in the crowd, we become something more, we are a community and we are better for it.