Mentoring Mondays


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“Expanding Your Possibilities for Growth – Seven Minutes at a Time”

As we continue to learn about the “process of change” and the transformative power of small actions, this week we will discover some of the tools and actionable ideas that you can immediately use to improve your daily lives.

In her book, The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Change , Allyson Lewis shares an inspiring story of “The Pumpkin and the Jar” and how we can allow artificial barriers to limit our hopes and dreams. As the story is told, a farmer plants a field of pumpkins and over time the seeds sprout and grow into vines that burst into blossoms. “The farmer walks the field one day and admires the beautiful blossoms, marveling at how nature had transformed those tiny seeds he had planted into this glorious display in only a few short weeks. As he bent down to admire one particularly beautiful blossom, he happened to notice an old glass jar lying nearby, and he wondered what would happen if a pumpkin were allowed to grow only within the limited confines of that jar. He placed the glass jar over the bloom and walked away.”

You can guess what happened. When the farmer returned some weeks later, the pumpkin grew and totally filled the jar – taking on the shape of the jar, and then it stopped growing. However, it was surrounded by beautiful round and amazingly large pumpkins. The moral of the story is that the pumpkin in the jar had been limited by the barrier and, as a result, altered its final shape.

At some point, all of us have allowed artificial barriers to limit our hopes and dreams. I hope the story prompts you to consider what your possibilities for growth might be and how or what are the unnecessary barriers that are keeping you from achieving your full growth, thereby altering the shape of your future and purpose. “But you can break free of your constraints to live a life with as much room for growth as your dreams can provide, and although breaking your barriers can open the path for life-altering growth, it doesn’t have to be a painful or overwhelming task.  The barriers only have as much power as you give them.”

Here are some seven minutes ideas (micro-actions) that lead to a fundamental change in the way you approach your daily life. These tools will promote productivity and enable you to gain greater control of the hours in your workday:

Micro-Action: Create a daily written action plan. Every day before you leave work, spend seven minutes writing down the top four to seven tasks you need to accomplish during the next workday.

Micro-Action: Declutter one area. Your organizational skills play a major role in your ability to increase your activity levels both at home and at work – create and maintain an organized space. Spend seven minutes cleaning out one drawer. Schedule seven to ten minutes, three times a week, to work on your office files.

Micro-Action: Committing to daily contacts. It is vitally important that you communicate with your clients, employees, and associates. Set and keep a commitment to make a minimum number of contacts with co-workers each day.

Micro-Action: Expanding your knowledge. To grow professionally you must increase your knowledge. Choose one book then commit to reading 10 pages or more every day. You can even choose to listen to audiobooks on CD, tape or iPod –a great way to spend all those hours traveling to and from work.

Another seven-minute idea is to have fun.  You must have fun in your work if you want to grow within your profession. “Your work occupies approximately one-third of your adult life. If you do not take pleasure, joy and satisfaction from doing what you do for a living you will not do it well nor will you find true success.”

If these micro-actions don’t appeal to you, develop your own strategies for change. Take the next seven minutes to write down ten strategies for action – five aimed at professional growth and five for personal growth. Set the stage for a successful life – break the artificial or perceived barriers that limit your potential for growth and embrace change!


Source: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing.


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Page last modified November 21, 2021