For more than a year now I have been a member of a co-coaching group called ACT (Action Coaching Teams). It is really great, and I recommend it. ACT is a group that helps you become more accountable. At the beginning of the week, each member sends their coach for that week a list of action items. On my list I have the supplements I intend to take each day, self-care practices like meditation, Qi-Gong, and the gym, all my client appointments, social media posts, and various administrative tasks.
Every member of ACT does it slightly differently. Some people have 10 or 12 items that are very meaningful to them. I have close to 200 very small items. My downfall has always been in the details.
The style that most people bring to ACT, which has been my style too, is to start the week in a really relaxed way: There is plenty of time, no rush I’ve got this. Then to pick up speed about halfway through the week: Okay, now it’s getting more serious. Then to have a last minute rush as we get close to the deadline: Holy smokes, am I going to make it? It’s down to the deadline.
ACT groups have installed a cunning little device, which makes all the difference. You get to divide your list into A items and B items: the ones you want accountability on, and the ones that you do not. For each A item you do not complete by the end of the week, not only do you pay a $5 penalty, but so does your coach. This is clever, because most people do not care about paying $5 because they skipped going to the gym, but everyone feels terrible about costing someone else five bucks as well. Hence, many people stay up all night, the last night before the ACT meeting, to get all their A items completed.
The last month or so I have experimented with a different tactic, that is now spilling over into the rest of my life. It is packed with juicy insights that I want to share with you.
These days, as soon as we have the ACT meeting (8am on a Wednesday) I hit the ground running. I aim to get more than half of my tasks done on Wednesday and Thursday. That way I can have all of it done by Monday morning, giving me 48 hours of cruisin’ in, nice and slow, before the final meeting.
My wife Chameli has always lived like this. She said to me early on in our marriage, “I don’t do stress, it doesn’t suit my disposition.” I don’t think stress suits anyone’s disposition particularly, but she just takes a stronger stance than most. When she has to fly somewhere, for example, she likes to be at the airport way before the required time, so she can relax, wander around, and… no stress. If she has a deadline for an article, or anything else, she gets it done a week early. It has taken me 17 years, but now I am slowly catching up with Chameli’s wisdom. I used to be the guy who would leave for the airport just in time, or a few minutes late, drive really fast to get there, and squeeze through the check-in line just in time. Yes, I was “doing stress.”
I have discovered something wonderful by approaching my ACT list in a different way. The focus and push that you can apply long before the deadline has a very different quality than the focus and push that you might bring when you are getting close to the deadline. It has a calmer, more centered, and more present disposition.
Now that I have shifted my attitude towards my ACT list it is spilling over into other parts of my life as well. The things you say, and the way you say them have a very different quality when there is no urgency. I wake up early in the morning and make sure the first few hours are the most productive of the day. By the middle of the day things start to slow down. I take a nap after lunch, and then I am able to have an evening filled with a sense of deserved rest.
Shifting from last minute rushing and stress to front ended powerful action requires a system reset. We will be offering you exactly that in Nevada City from February 17th-24th in our one week Radical Brilliance Laboratory. It is an opportunity to be completely isolated from the usual demands of the world so you can go deep into a quality of creativity that is not frenetic and stressed, but calm, steady, and connected with a deeper source of everything.