Do you need a breakthrough?

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Take a minute to think about the most important project on your plate. How big does it feel? How much weight does it have? How much time should you devote to it?

Now here’s the big question. What if you only had one hour to do it? That’s it. Just one hour. Gulp.

How would you prepare for the hour?  How would you prioritize it? What would you absolutely have to get done? How would you wrap up it up effectively?

I had to ask and answer those questions for myself recently. The result reminded me of the profound power of an honest hour.

Here’s my story. Last fall, I delivered a keynote to another great group of Microsoft sales professionals. These folks are high performers working with demanding targets and ever-growing expectations. My talk was on energy management and their General Manager could see the message resonating with his people.

Quick to leverage a good opportunity, the GM asked if I would follow up my keynote with an hour of personalized coaching for the first 40 participants to sign up.

He wanted to see the message stick – and so did I – so I had to sit down and figure out how to distil the very best of my coaching down to one powerful hour. I’m not interested in delivering coaching-lite, so I saw this as a challenge to do something high-leverage with people in one value-packed hour.

Here’s what I learned. It is amazing how much you can get done when you know you’ve only got an hour.

No question, we had to be mentally, emotionally and physically prepared for action. Prior to the coaching sessions, I required the clients to complete a short questionnaire and participate in a short webinar. With only an hour of one-on-one time to go deep, I had to be able to go in knowing the gist of their energy management story. And from the other side of things, they needed to come to their meeting ready to ask their biggest questions and ready to grab hold of honest, personal feedback.

Success. I’m only about half way through the group, but the people I’ve worked with so far have absolutely brought their A game to the meetings. We get into issues quickly, hit the key leverage opportunities and wrap up with targeted, meaningful action steps – in one hour.

It got me thinking, when you know you only have an hour to do something important, you find ways to make the most of it. And although we all have projects, relationships and goals that can’t be “fixed” in an hour, we also have opportunities where a good, honest hour can be a critical building block to something great.

What if you spent an honest hour at the gym? No reading, no chatting, no posing, just 10 minutes warming up, 40 minutes of cardio or strength training and 10 minutes of stretching/cool down – thinking every minute about your body and the actions you are taking to build strength and endurance. How might that hour propel the bag of bones that’s carrying you through life?

What if you spent an honest hour with a direct report who’s struggling? A project that’s drifting? A problem that seems too big to take on? A mess that’s getting out of control?

There are people, projects and even your own personal values that would benefit enormously from an honest hour of your time. Think about that. It’s tempting to take time for granted, to waste it, to allow distractions in and tell ourselves stories to justify drift. And drift happens. But when it does, sometimes all you need to get yourself, your team, or your family back on course is one breakthrough moment, which you can intentionally and compassionately create with one honest hour of focused attention.

This month, my challenge to you is to identify one person and one project that desperately needs an honest hour of your time. Do the prep work. Plan the hour. Divert the distractions. Get in there, and give someone or something your full energy and attention.

Make something great happen – fast.

  • Having only an hour forces you to focus on what’s most important …you cut out the fluff.
  • Having only an hour forces you to get commitment on action steps.
  • Having only an hour forces you to communicate in clear, concise terms.
  • It’s not about the time you put in – it’s about what you put into the time.

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