Back in high school, the last thing I wanted to be was a teacher. But at the age of 16, I had to do some volunteer work to earn some credits towards graduation. There was a limited number of options and finally, I settled on being a teaching assistant during summer school. Little did I know how that would change my life.
Turned out I not only had a talent for it but I also really enjoyed it. So, after finishing college I decided to head back to Japan where I’d spent a year on a study abroad program and give teaching a go. That was 25 years ago, and I’m still here.
However, I’m no longer just a run-of-the-mill teacher. I own an English school, but I spend my time helping individuals and corporations increase profits by maximizing their productivity. What’s interesting is just how much my background in teaching has affected my career as a consultant.
Close to 15 years ago, I was asked to give a presentation at Panasonic by a client on how to master English. While I had a long list of “secrets” to improving English I wanted to focus on one specific point that very few teachers mention, although they are all using it.
I’m talking about what bestselling author Darren Hardy calls “the compound effect.”
I had noticed is that nearly every student dedicated certain days and times to study. For some it was Saturday afternoon, for others it was a weeknight. Sounds good. The problem is that things don’t always work out the way we want them to.
In fact, I believe that many of us are relieved when we have an excuse to fall into our lap as it gives us a get-out-of-jail-free card. Anyone who listens to our tale of woe will surely understand and give us a pass.
To master a language, it’s not about devoting two hours a week to studying but making it part of our lives. And the best way to do that is to make it a daily routine. The good news is that it doesn’t even have to be that much, a mere 10 minutes a day will work wonders over time.
What’s even better is this concept works for every facet of our life, not just learning a language. Want a better body, 10 minutes a day. Want to be a better negotiator, 10 minutes a day. It’s not the amount that’s important, but rather that it becomes something we do day in and day out like brushing our teeth.
Some of you reading this might be thinking “Isn’t two hours on Saturday better than 70 minutes a week?” Simply put – no. First, 10 minutes every day removes all the stress. 10 minutes is easy. Two hours doing something we might not enjoy is tough. We can all handle 10 minutes.
Second, it removes interruptions from playing a factor. If we do the two-hour weekly routine, and something comes up (as they so often do, you can say goodbye to studying or exercising that week). Sure, we tell ourselves that we’ll make up for it during the week, or double it up next week, but more often than not we’re just lying to ourselves.
If we miss one 10-minute block, it’s not a big loss. No need to make up for it. Just don’t let it slide too often. And we all know it, there’s no excuse for not being able to invest 10 minutes a day.
Want to read a 1000-page book? No sweat, just 10 minutes a day. Even slow readers can get through three pages in 10 minutes. Guess what, by the end of that year, the book will be done. It’s not magic. It’s math.
Habits are the single most powerful concept in improvement whether you want a better body, more time, to be smarter, to write a book, become a social media consultant or earn a Ph.D.
And to think, just 10 minutes a day.
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