What did you do today to improve?
Was it deliberate? Did you do it yesterday? Will you do it tomorrow and the day after?
Kobe Bryant is retired from basketball and is now focused on being a great storyteller. He was recently on Lewis Howes’s podcast The School of Greatness: “Mamba Mentality, NBA Championships, And Oscars”. Here’s what he says about the math of every day:
It’s simple. If you do the math on this, right? If you’re thinking about how often kids are playing. I tell this to my daughter, and my daughter’s team as well, that I coach. it’s a simple thing of math.
If you want to be a great player. If you play every single day 2, 3 hours. Every single day. Over the course of a year. How much better are you getting? Most kids will play, maybe, an hour and a half two days a week? Do the math on that. That’s not gonna get it done. Not gonna get it done.
So if you’re obsessively training 2 or 3 hours every single day over a year. Over two years. You make quantum leaps, man.
That math scales down well, but keep the “every single day” part. Adjust the other numbers. You really might only be able to carve out 30 minutes.
- 2 or 3 hours every day over 2 years
- 1 hour a day over 4 years
- 30 minutes a day over 8 years
Eight years starts sounding like a pretty long time, but the time is going to pass anyway.
It’s clear that the opposite is true: negative action adds up. (Eating a box of cookies every day.) What’s easier to forget is that seemingly neutral action can add up negatively as well. (Sitting at a desk every day.)
In The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson writes about the importance of paying attention to small things that you do every day:
Simple daily disciplines—little productive actions, repeated consistently over time—add up to the difference between failure and success. The slight edge is relentless and cuts both ways: simple daily disciplines or simple errors in judgment, repeated consistently over time, make you or break you.
Taking it even further, cutting the input in half and doubling the time scale:
- 15 minutes a day over 16 years
- 7 minutes a day over 32 years
- 3 minutes a day over 64 years
I’ll think about this more but it does seem that preventative things fit well further down the scale. That last one being pretty close to the time it takes to brush your teeth every day over a lifetime. (But neglecting this for even a year could be bad.)
Take action: Think about what good you’ll do today and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and the…