Monday, January 2, 2012

White Belt Master Training Day Two - Assessing Your Mental Strength


OK. So I completed my thirty day challenge for day two by walking for three miles again today. As a white belt, you need to continue your  thirty day challenge for the next thirty days. For day two of our White Belt Master Training, it's time to start assessing your mental strength.

Mental strength is what you need each day to complete the tasks before us. If you aren't doing, there's a good chance you aren't mentally strong enough to do those tasks. The solution, improve your mental strength.

I talked yesterday about how the thirty day challenge is a test of your mental strength. It's about learning how to change. I always suggest that you should change slow to create successes to prove to yourself that you can change. This creates momentum and makes it easier to create more change.

When it comes to mental strength. I think there are two things at work. One is figuring out exactly how much you want to do in a day. The second part is figuring out how to do it.

In my analogy yesterday, I talked about the gym and doing the bench press exercise. That if I was to teach you how to bench press, I would start you with the bar and then slowly add weight over time in small increments. This progressive resistance over a long period of time builds physical strength.

To build mental strength, our piece of equipment is the checklist. The checklist is just like the bench press equipment in the gym. The weight that we will add in small increments are tasks we want to accomplish on daily basis.

If you can, I want you to picture a big binder that contains a complete instruction manual on how to do everything you would need to do in a day. It would be a series of checklists for anything that came up that needed to be done. And it would be organized in such a way that someone else could step in and say oh, here are the exact steps I need to do that.

Next, I want you to picture the bench press with a bar with 250 pounds on it.

Creating a binder with all the instructions in the first example might require a comparable about of mental strength compared to the physical strength required to lift the 250 pounds.

Both might be hard to fathom you being able to do.

Now though, I want you to picture the bench press with bar with no weight and that you only have to lift it once.

And a blank piece of paper with one simple item to do on it like watch tv for an hour with the knowledge that is all you have do and everything would be done.

I think that you would probably agree with me that both seem a lot easier now, right?

So what I want you do today is to start putting tasks that you know you have to do each day on a checklist. These are the weights. I want you to start with five tasks at first if you think you can handle it. Don't worry about what the future of this checklist will be. Just start with five. If you can't do five. Add one.

These would probably best be things that you consider routine. Things you are probably doing anyway.

For example, I'm walking every day. It would be very easy for me to start such a checklist. It might look like this.

  • Put on compression shorts

  • Put on shorts

  • Put on T-shirt

  • Put on socks

  • Put on shoes

  • Put on sweatshirt

  • Get keys

  • Drive to gym

  • Take sweatshirt off

  • Get on treadmill

  • Press quick start button

  • Set warm-up walking speed at 2.5 miles

  • Increase speed by one tenth of a mile each minute

  • Set walking speed to 3.5 miles per hour at five minutes

  • Set incline to 1.0

  • Walk for three miles

  • At three miles start cool down

  • Reduce incline to zero

  • Reduce walking speed by .5 mph each minute

  • Put on sweatshirt

  • Drive home

As you can see, just for my walking three miles for my challenge, I put 21 items on my checklist. You can start with just "walk for three miles" and put that on your checklist. You don't have to be as detailed - when you start. But later, I am going to suggest that you do that.

What's going to happen here is that for each part of you day, we'll start building checklist for all of your routines and then start building a list that you will start to do from start to finish.

Wherever you eventually get stuck is how mentally strong you are.

For now, though, get at least five items on your checklist.

I'll tell you what to with it tomorrow. Here's today's podcast that let's you hear me explain the process as well.


Related Article

Michael Kuhn

Black Belt Project: Build Mental Strength


Did it.

I've been measuring my mental strength by measuring how many 15 and 30 minutes of "high priority" work I get done a day. (From the Neil Fiore book "The Now Habit") I mentioned once before. Also tracking # of cold calls a day.

It's not a perfect as different days bring different work that is not always the same level of difficulty. I always plan to track statistics in my weekly review but never do.

Do you think tracking time is as valid as tracking checklist items? I have a short daily checklist now (about a dozen items) That I get done in the morning easily. However, the amount of things in my inbox varies so much day to day I'm not sure how to track how much I get done except by tracking time...or number of repetitive tasks performed---- like cold calling.


Great question. What really matters is that you are productive. My personal opinion though is that most of what we do is repetitive. The real problem with measuring time only is that most of the time what we do expands to the time we allow for it. The benefits of using checklists:

1. You define exactly what done looks like.
2. You get EVERYTHING out of your head
3. You can specifically track how much time specific tasks take
4. You can look for ways to reduce the time it takes to be more efficient.

In the end, we will be blocking time out for things with a heavily weighted checklist approach.