Jim Rohn was convinced that true life changes are driven by one’s personal philosophy. He perceived his whole life’s journey as nothing more than an outcome of his attitudes and beliefs.
This belief is a cornerstone of my philosophy too.
Mastering anything in life requires patience, perseverance and commitment. As Jim Rohn’s story shows, these traits must come from within. You need a solid personal philosophy to distill such qualities within yourself.
I KNOW that daily, sustained action brings results
I know this because I practice this rule in every area of my life. I focus daily on specific actions, committing 10 minutes to them. I track my results, and I see them blossom. I see the results every day in such diverse areas as physical fitness, finances, learning and relationships. I believe that this is a universal law, applicable to absolutely every aspect of life.
If you do something daily and you are not getting the desired results it simply means you are putting at least as much daily and sustainable effort against those results.
Let me give you a practical example. If you exercise 10 minutes a day, the same routine day by day by day, your muscles have to became stronger and your weight must drop, UNLESS you counteract your exercises by introducing more calories to your diet or by lying on the couch for the rest of the day.
The more action taken, the better the results
…up to a point. Take a look at the chart below.
The shape of the curve above is called normal distribution in probability research. In statistics, it is an almost universal truth, much like the number π is in math.
As π can be found in many equations describing the texture of the universe, normal distribution can be used to describe a multitude of measures in our world including a person’s IQ, height or weight to name a few.
According to the Central Limit Theorem, the average of a large number of random variables tends toward normal distribution. In our big and complicated world, nearly everything can represented by a huge amount of data. If you want to know more about the CLT in-depth, check out this easy-to-understand presentation.
I believe normal distribution can be also applied to describe the relationship between effort (which consumes time), and achieved results. Even the smallest amount of invested time brings results.
I consciously use a few minutes of my day on financial planning. My monthly finance tasks I take on – a budget summary, bill-paying, dividing my resources between different assets and so on – take me about 2 hours per month, which works out to roughly four minutes a day. Breaking it down to a daily task has driven incredible results; I save almost five times more money than I did previously!
Effort, it seems, follows The Law of Diminishing Returns. For every activity there is a “sweet spot” of effort, a point at which you extract the most value from the time spent.
There are a few explanations for this. In some cases, the point of maximum returns occurs when you reach peak efficiency or when you complete a task thoroughly.
In other instances it may be that you have a period of sustained focus and drive before “hitting a wall” and losing focus or energy. In either case, trying to continue working after you have left the “sweet spot” will result in spinning your wheels and losing efficiency.
So, why is it the Ten-Minute Philosophy? I find that 10 minutes is a nice, easy number. It can even be two minutes and you will still see results if it is two minutes of sustained, daily action (see the chart below). With two minutes of course, the results will be smaller; the compounded effect will take about 50 times longer to materialize than with 10 minutes of daily work.
Every sustained action, no matter how small, will bring results
This truth is the core of my philosophy. This approach will always triumph over the two major obstacles of any lasting change: fear of failure and giving up. Fear of failure stops you before you begin; giving up stops you some time later, but usually happens before the compounding results have become visible.
Every action brings results in the end. As long as you apply sustained energy to something, you can’t fail. You have nothing to fear. You can start working toward your goals without the burden of hesitations and doubts.
If you believe, if you know that every sustained action brings results giving up is out of the question, any incentives for resignation disappear.
Own The Ten-Minute Philosophy
“Alright,” you say, “I get the theories, but how are they applicable to my life?” I concur, theorizing doesn’t drive results; what led me to embrace this philosophy wasn’t stories or the preaching of others. It was my own experience.
In order to feel, at a gut level, that this is indeed a universal law that is applicable to you, I ask you to do a quick exercise.
Take a moment to think of any successful area of your life. It can be anything – your marriage, a specific skill, a career, the fact you have never had a car accident, good grades at school, your great relationship with your parents…
The best example for this exercise will be something that you take for granted, but that other people praise you for. So, pick one and think: what makes me successful in this area? What’s the difference between me and the people who praise me for this? Chances are, they are less successful at it. What do I do that they don’t?
I bet you will find some sustained action underlying your success.
If you look, you find examples of how this philosophy has already manifested in your own life. Embrace it and you will see the way it changes your daily actions and in the effect – your life.
Give me your example
I collect 10-minute success stories. It doesn’t have to be exactly 10 minute long activity. It just must follow the logic of The Ten-Minute Philosophy: small, sustainable action which brings results. Share your story in the comments below and I’ll publish it on this blog.