Do Less, Then Obsess


It’s official. The honeymoon is over. Deep into October, the newness of the school year has worn off and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the awesome things we wanted to be and accomplish this year. We remember August’s passion and energy around our vision of being a better version of ourselves yet, as we try to be all of those things all at once, we get nowhere fast.

A remedy to this oh-so-common feeling is to narrow down our focus into what Morten Hansen, author of Great at Work, calls a micro-behavior. This small, yet powerful, focus helps us see learning and improving not as a separate event, disconnected from our work, but as an essential element of our work.


Once you’ve whittled down your list of improvements to the one action that will yield big results, it is time to not just learn, but loop. The learning loop is an iterative process that involves intentional practice.


Hansen identifies 6 ways to create a quality learning loop that will lead to big gains.

  1. Carve out the 15 minutes a day to learn
    • All it takes is 15 min each day to focus on improving this one skill.
    • Ask: “Which skill would, if improved, lift your performance the most?”
  2. Chunk it
    • To improve a skill, effective learners break it into manageable chunks, called micro-behaviors.
    • A micro-behavior is a small, concrete action you take on a daily basis to improve a skill. 
    • For example, “improving keynote speaking” can be broken into a few areas (opening, closing, stage movement, punch line on each slide, etc.) which could each be identified as a micro-behavior. For “stage movement”, you can work on planting your feet like cement on the floor, move a few steps then stop again, make eye contact with one person, then move to another, etc.
  3. Measure the “soft”
    • Ask: “Which one of two metrics will, if tracked, make a big difference to my efforts to improve my work performance?”
  4. Get nimble feedback fast
    • Request frequent feedback from a coach, boss, mentor, or colleagues.
  5. Dig the dip
    • Realize that doing the learning loop will make your performance dip in the short term, but gain over the long-term.
  6. Confront the plateau
    • We let skills that once required fierce efforts lapse into habits.
    • Top performers don’t rest, they keep learning.

And what did we do with this learning loop? We turned it into what we have coined our October Obsession. Our process started with an overall reflection within the context of our quality instructional expectations along with our overall goals and growth areas as a team.

Step 1: Reflect on the Quality Instructional Cycle.

Step 2: Determine one micro-behavior that will grow your practice within the cycle & begin the weekly learning loop using TM October Obsession.

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Staying committed to this one personal focus is powerful and motivating. And although October will soon be finished, our learning never stops. Our November 1st reflection will inform our next round of intentional growth, paving the way for a new opportunity to improve.

Whatever the time of year, what small change could you narrow in on that could affect great change? Together we are brilliant, so I’d love to connect! Tweet and tag me (@me1odystacy) or feel free to start a conversation by commenting below.

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