Feeling a bit average?

‘Average’ is not a word we like. We strive for success, we aim for excellence, internet quotes exhort us to ‘shoot for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars’.

Therefore I was intrigued when I read about Michael Neill’s ‘average day’ philosophy. Was the idea that I encouraged my coaching clients to settle for ordinary at the expense of extraordinary?

It seems not.

His ‘one day at a time’ exercise works like this.

Step one:

Choose 3 aspects of your life in which you’re trying to make progress. Let’s say

  1. Spend more time with your direct reports
  2. Improve your business Spanish
  3. Get more exercise

Step two:

What would an average day look like with respect to the subjects you’ve chosen? Note that this isn’t asking you to describe a typical day but an average day, one that’s neither particularly good or particularly bad.

  1. Spend more time with your direct reports: spend 15 uninterrupted minutes each day with a team member
  2. Do one lesson a day of your online ‘Spanish for business’ course
  3. Drive to an out of town car park and walk the last two miles of your commute

Do ordinary things

Step three:

Look into the future: if you did nothing but repeat that average day five days a week, what would be the difference after 3 months/6 months/a year?

  1. If you spent 15 uninterrupted minutes a day with a team member, after three months that would be 15 hours of time you’d spent getting to know your team. After a year, that would be 60 hours. Short, regular contact would give you a greater insight into what makes each team member tick and your team would see that you are committed to them as individuals.
  2. A Spanish lesson a day, five days a week, for three months would deliver a huge improvement in your proficiency. You’d be ready to progress to the next level and after six months, you might be looking to learn a new language.
  3. Four miles a day, five days a week is 80 miles a month. Keep that up for a year and you’ll have walked 960 miles: that’s the distance (as the crow flies) between London and Warsaw!

Step four:

Now that you’ve seen the power of an average day, do three things today that will make a positive contribution to your goals. Repeat daily for as long as you wish.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts: How can you use your average, ordinary day to make extraordinary progress?

What do you think?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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