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Japanese fountain. Practice has the power of water. Little drops become rivers. Rivers carve out canyons.

Let’s begin with a samurai quote raid, this time from Geoff Colvin’s,  Talent is Overrated:

Factors cascade over time because they multiply the effects of earlier seemingly, weak factors.

Part of the way it works is as first explained by Anders Ericsson and his colleagues is that a beginner’s skill are so modest that he or she can manage only a little bit of deliberate practice, since it is highly demanding.  But that little bit of practice increases the person’s skills, making it possible to do more practice, which increases the person’s skill level more.

This morning, I used my little timer and spent five minutes each on the following:

  1. Samurai Notebook Review.  I rediscovered these quotes and generated an idea for the blog post.
  2. Read The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen.  27 pages down.  783 to go.  It’s more fun in small chunks.
  3. Skimmed and read Teach Yourself Visually WordPress.  I’m still learning how to drive this blogging puppy.  I have also resisted any technology to my detriment.  I’ve realized if I just commit my self to studying a little bit at a time, I might start to get the lay of the land.  It all goes back to the two quotes above and trying to let factors cascade.

There are several ways that just taking five minutes helps your performance and your life cascade:

  • It helps you get over hesitant (or in Japanese いやいや)thinking.  It’s just five minutes.
  • Five minutes helps you gain momentum.   Once you start, other things start opening up.
  • You get the lay of the land.  Feel hopeless about investing?  Spend five minutes a day reading something like Eric Tyson’s Investing for Dummies.   You may not become an investment guru, but you will know a heck of a lot more than if you just put your hands in the air and say, “I don’t know anything about investing!”

Tengu on the grounds of a Miyajima temple. On the left are ascending prayer wheels. Who knows? One small action done in the right frame of mind could change the world.

It’s kind of serendipity that two days after I started this post, I found a copy of 毎朝1分で人生はかわる:One Minute, One Action in the Morning Will Change Your Whole Life.   The premise is obvious from the book and I have just begun to dig into it.  But Miyake-san really hit me with what I’ll the Small Action Power Cycle:

  • Small actions can lead to a change in consciousness (やる気 or will)
  • This leads to more action
  • Which leads to confidence
  • Which leads to a new vision
  • Which leads to action

I guess now I have to change all my blog posts.   I’ve already gone from talking about the power of 30 minutes, then 5, now one minute.  How much more small can you go? One nanosecond?   That’s all it takes to have life changing idea.  However I think all the other chunks of action create the groundwork for inspiration to happen.  Now that is samurai time management!