Something i’ve really learnt over the last few years is about time: how it’s stolen, lost, spent or invested, remembered, forgotten or enjoyed. Those of you who are regulars may recall that since Christmas i’ve been playing guitar everyday. I’ve signed up for some online video lessons which i can access ‘on demand‘ and this week i completed my tenth lesson. Ok, so that’s only ten hours of lessons in nearly five months, plus five or ten minutes practice a day, but i’m twice as good a guitarist as i was from the first twenty years of playing. A small but regular investment of time has transformed my performance. But it’s not about finding that small amount of time: it’s about stopping doing whatever was stealing that time before. It’s about choices.
Most days, the blog is the most important thing i do: the reason being that it gives me a legacy. As time goes by, it forms a huge external resource that i constantly reference and use to reinforce conversations, to track my learning, to develop ideas, to share, to challenge myself. Even on those days that feel wasted, those days that feel unproductive, if i’ve spent twenty minutes reflecting in this space, i feel i’ve learnt something, i feel that there is some tangible result from the day.
Many of the leadership or management programmes that i work on focus on techniques for diary management, on processes or models for organising time better, on ways of influencing others or effecting change more successfully. But so much of it misses the point: it’s about where you spend your time and what you stop doing. Effecting change is easy if you take small bites. Small changes are cumulative. If you want to curate your reputation, you have to do it over time, and reputation is what will empower you to make changes, what will give you influence.
How much of your time is stolen? How much of it is used by other people? What do you learn everyday and how do you share it? Is that time more or less valuable than the time other people use? How different do you feel from this time last year?
Change can be as simple as intention: if you really want something, if you really want to learn, you just need to make small changes everyday. This message is often missing in our learning design: we focus on understanding rather than action, but learning is about action as well.
Understanding what we want, then taking action to achieve it, and recognising that action may be about stopping doing things as well as starting new things. That’s something valuable i’ve learnt.