Leadership is a business of continual growth and development. You connect the dots, realize opportunities and work to actualize your purpose. Here is what happened to Justin and Jeremy and the insights their story teaches us about what great learners and leaders do. It shows how high performers engage growth opportunities to surprise themselves and the people around them.
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The 72-Hour Rule
Jeremy and Justin were both bright sales managers. They participated in the same leader as a coach sessions. They were both energetic and highly engaged. There was no way to predict the difference in their results following our first workshop. But a thorough debriefing of how they each applied themselves revealed the mystery and explained their results.
While Jeremy was excited with the many new ideas he had captured, he hadn't taken immediate actions on the new insights and was still in the process of thinking about the possibilities he envisioned. Justin implemented three definitive breakthroughs within a week; he prioritized a series of concrete steps and was on his way to exceeding his goals.
Comparing Justin and Jeremy and their results inspired the following observations in our debrief session with the team:
- New learning, new insight and new knowledge carry an energetic potential for change. Disjointed irrelevant data do not. The energetic potential is the "protein value" of learning.
- The protein value or energetic potential is maximal at the incidence of learning. At the point you receive and experience a new insight, the potency for change is at a full 100%.
- The law of diminishing potential says that the potency for change which comes from the protein value of learning quickly dissipates and is inversely proportional to the time that passed from the moment of exposure. As the length of time increases from the exposure to the insight, the potential for change diminishes. Here is a way to look at this mathematically:
- The incidence of learning (the moment of impact) - 100% potency for change
- Three hours lapse - 95%-98% potency
- 12 hours - 90% potency
- 24 hours - 85% potency
- 48 Hours - 75% potency
- 72 Hours - 51%-60% potency
- Below 51% the energetic potential for change is equal to the gravitational pull of current conditions and habits. This means the new insight has been diluted to the point of ineffectuality.
- The 72-Hours Rule is defined by the law of diminishing potential. The rule says if you've done nothing within the first 72 hours and have not taken the first step towards applying a new idea, the likelihood that the insight (idea) will be implemented in action and drive change quickly approaches to zero.
- The cycle of learning is about instantiating ideas and actualizing possibilities. When it works well it becomes a virtuous spiral of growth and development. In the case of learning a new skill it looks like this:
A. You learn a new skill
B. You apply the new skill
C. You have success with the new skill
D. The success generates motivation to continue using the skill and learn more new skills
- The virtuous spiral of learning builds its own momentum. The law of diminishment is replaced by the law of magnification. The energetic potential does not diminish; it gets exponentially magnified:
A. You observe and learn a new method of (engaging/ listening/ coaching/ leading/ negotiating/ consulting...) - 100% change potency
B. You apply the new method and put it to practice - 120% potency
C. You create new results and build success momentum in application of the new method - 150% potency
D. Your success reaffirms itself and motivates you to continue your practice and further learn new more advanced methods and skills - 200% potency
- The leverage is in the velocity of implementation-how fast you move from idea to development and practice. Top performers move from insight to implementation without delay, almost immediately. They instantiate the phrase: to see it is to cause it to be. Once they see something in their mind they move to make it happen.
- The 72-Hours Rule is the discipline of instantiation, designed to avoid the stillbirth of learning. You must take the first action within 72 hours. If the learning cycle is stuck and you do not take the first step to initiate the virtuous spiral of growth, chances are the new learning was already aborted.
- Compulsive hoarding of ideas and notes in a workshop with no follow-up action is nothing more than intellectual gluttony. It clogs the veins of application. I've often observed how the energy potential of a new idea gets used up and dissipate in the act of notating and writing down the idea. It's as though writing down the idea in itself was the action. But unless further development, planning and movement towards action are involved the learning cycle becomes stuck and the change potency quickly dissipates.
- The 4th phase of the learning cycle works best and most powerfully when you turn the learning success into a teaching and coaching opportunity for others. By teaching and coaching you crystallize the learning. It helps you take what you've learned and apply it toward a new level of mastery in yourself.
- An idea is only as good as its concretizing action! The virtuous spiral of growth is always accompanied by a particular sense of urgency. If the new idea is good, the urgency is to act now; to not delay action; to not lose the fresh and vibrant sense of possibility it brings. You move immediately to augment the potency of change and build the momentum of new results.
- The "muscle" I ask you to practice is the concretizing muscle that determines your application velocity and accelerates the movement from idea up through the spiral to implementation.
Back to Jeremy and Justin. Jeremy was excited about the 22 learning ideas and key insights he captured in copious notes. Justin directed his excitement at the three top ideas he decided to implement immediately. Justin's application of his top three learning insights mounted significantly greater change potency and momentum in just a few hours than Jeremy's notes of 22 attractive ideas. Implementation and deployment velocity trumps copious notes.
Now it's your turn. Turn the Key. Practice your concretizing muscles. Increase the velocity of learning application. Apply your new insight now. Take action. Teach it to a friend. Become the virtuous spiral of learning and growth in yourself. Design and create new futures for you and your people.
© Aviv Shahar