I believe the way we act in small, insignificant moments is directly related to how we act when the critical moments in life come jumping into our reality. How you do anything is truly how you do everything, is it not? If you are only waiting for the big moments in life to turn on more serious efforts in your business or personal life then you're only fooling yourself. Proper planning, development, and growth is required to really develop the skill sets you need if you're striving for any kind of conscious improvement over time. But if you can't turn on the necessary skills when it doesn't matter, you definitely won't be able to turn them on when it truly does. It's impossible to cultivate new skills without viewing every moment as a chance to improve.
How often do you find yourself thinking that the little moments don't matter all that much? Are we telling ourselves that it really isn't worth the effort in the short run to be organized with the small projects around us? Are we justifying our lack of effort because we think we'll have the ability to stay organized and successfully manage the next big project that comes our way because it will really matter then?
The Lake Wobegon Effect (a natural human tendency to overestimate one's capabilities) is something we all subscribe to, as well as our tendency to underestimate our weaknesses. We think that when the time comes we'll be ready to act and make things happen, but the problem with this way of thinking is that it often leaves us in an unprepared state of mind to take the right action when its truly necessary. While you might perform better under pressure it doesn't mean you will perform as well as you could. I have struggled with this constantly over the past 15 years in business. As entrepreneurs, we wear many hats when we're in startup mode where we're often the only person to do every job until we can afford to hire someone else to assist with the workload. Unfortunately, this forces us to always be in motion without allowing us to go deeper to develop certain skills that are key to mastering our craft. When I finally saw that this kind of last-minute action never got me the kind of progress I hoped for, I realized I was re-living this behavior like a scene from Groundhog Day. I failed to recognize how much work I needed to focus on to really develop my strengths further, while at the same time failing to identify how strong some of my weaknesses were in other areas.
When you consider that our minds are a vast sea of complexity that shape our everyday reality, working on what goes on inside of them really should be our top priority. Growing a business requires a well thought out mission and strategic plan, combined with carefully crafted objectives and goals. Growing your mind should require the same type of plan if you want to improve in any kind of meaningful way. A pilot in training spends the majority of their time simulating emergency scenarios, yet most pilots may never encounter more than a handful of real emergencies in their career, some never encountering any. Think about this: isn't it true that how pilots do anything is truly how they do everything? Can a pilot pay any less attention during take-off than in an emergency? Is anything less on the line in either scenario? The same things are at stake in either situation, but the reality of failure is much more apparent in the latter. So why wait to practice improving your skills for the things that matter only when its game time? Why not practice them any chance you get? The real power of progress and growth lies in the small details we act out each and every day, yet we often shrug at those moments and save ourselves for the big ones. Unfortunately, we don't get many big moments, but we're guaranteed to have small ones on a daily basis.
"We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training." -- Archilochus
If you think about the impact of small, incremental growth, then take this example to heart: try reading a book for just 15 minutes each day. Sounds easy enough, right? In fact, make it easier by batching this activity while you eat your Lucky Charms every morning. In just one year you will have a read a little over 91 hours. If an average book takes you 5 to 6 hours to read, then you could finish 15 to 18 books in a single year. Most people don't read 15 to 18 books in their entire life. Try doing this for 20 years and you can start your own small library. Spend 30 minutes per day reading a book and you will finish 30 to 36 books per year, and finish over 600 books in the same time period. Do you want to be an expert at something? Well, that's one way to start.
Focusing on improving and growing your mind doesn't require monumental effort; it requires you to be diligent on a regular basis over time. You will begin to see that slow, incremental growth adds up to be a lot in the long run.
Remember, how you do anything is truly how you do everything.