“I did the bare minimum and became very successful” said no one ever on the planet who was telling the truth.
Not long ago I was out fishing for a few hours. It was a warm, sunny, windy, mid-May afternoon, and more than a little choppy on the water of the Lower Neuse. Some would say it was not ideal conditions, but then again, my idea of fishable/ideal conditions has more to do with whether I’m breathing or not.
Anyway, I spent the afternoon moving from spot to spot in my little john boat not catching much except for a great view of the Osprey’s fishing (they did considerably better than me), the peacefulness of being on the water, and some replenishment of my vitamin D stores.
Each time I fished a spot, at some point I would admit that the fish won in that spot, and then make the decision to move on, but before I did I said to myself “Just one more cast.” This is something I do every time I fish, whether it’s by myself or with some buddies. If I happen to get a hit on that “last cast” it will earn another cast, and if I happen to catch a fish, that will result in at least three more casts. Regardless of how it all shakes out, I will get to the point again where I say “one more” and if that cast is fishless (some might use the word “unsuccessful” here, I use “fishless” because success to me isn’t just catching the fish. That’s just one aspect. It’s experiencing the fishing, which I do successfully every time I go.), then move on.
On this particular day, I did not catch any fish on that “one more,” but it’s incredible how many times over my fishing life, that after catching nothing for 20 minutes in a spot, deciding to move on, and declaring that this is the last cast, that I (or someone in the boat) catch a fish on that “just one more cast.”
It makes sense when you consider it. After all, provided you are using a bait that the fish will bite, fishing is just a numbers game as a general rule. If you fish ten spots in a day, and you take “one more cast” for each spot then you are essentially adding ten more casts in a day to your efforts which is increasing the odds that you will catch a fish. When you have more than one person fishing, now you are multiplying the chance someone will successfully land a fish.
How long does it take to do one more cast? In general, about five minutes or less all things considered.
What does this have to do with anything?
What if you could dramatically improve your results in five minutes per day?
Any results. It doesn’t really matter what it is. If you are trying to do better at something, then doing a little more will matter. A lot.
And before I explain, the five minutes per day is EXTRA. I know we live in a microwave era. I know you can find all kinds of marketers in every arena of existence that will promise you some kind of magic thing that will change your life in 5 minutes.
And you and I both know that is a crock of fish droppings. Even if we do fall for it every now and then.
If what you are doing, or working at, involves skill development, then doing five more minutes above the necessary work will help you improve the skill faster simply due to the increase in practice.
In addition, you will experience the compounding effect of the additional work. Skills don’t develop in a straight line. Actually, not much develops in a straight line does it?
The compounding of the extra time accelerates the pace of gain over time. This is applicable to anything you are trying to change as well. Spend extra time nurturing a relationship and see what happens. Spend extra time on your health and see what happens.
There is also a significant mental strengthening that can occur in these five minutes. In many of our pursuits of value in life, things are difficult. One of the reasons we often get to the minimum required and stop, is because even the minimum is not so easy. Going this extra mile, so to speak is where major gains happen in our character as well as our tangible outcome.
If you want something to get better, you have to work at it. If it’s something that really matters to you, it will be challenging and you will struggle with patience. Figure out what are the basic things you need to do, and at what level consistently, to begin to see progress. Then add just “one more” to it, and over time you will be glad you did.
By Todd Burrier