Time flows to occupy the space allocated

Time flows to occupy the space allocated

Author: Muzzammil

When I was four, my mom told me not to insert objects into the electric plug points. She said I would get an electric shock. I had no reference in my map of the world what an electric shock was. When the experiment is ready, the equipment appears. So I found a 5-inch rusted nail that the carpenter had left behind while repairing a piece of furniture. In hindsight, I guess it was a futile nail. However, it was fruitful for me. I crawled underneath the dining table and found a futile plug-point. My map had a new reference based on this stunning experience – stunning in every sense of the word!

Mark Smit, a sharp mind and a gentleman that I have had the fortune of working with, told me that the work in hand would stretch, expand to occupy the amount of time I have chosen to allocate. I thought about it for a moment. I mentally disagreed with him. I did not have a reference in my map of the world. Sometimes, the four-year-old in me learns by inserting the 5-inch nail into the plug point. In an unrelated incident, I assigned a bank statement to cash book reconciliation of long pending items to a team member. I told him he had two weeks to complete the reconciliation and share the report with me. Yes, until the last 12 hours of the second week the job remained unfinished. And, and, and it then expanded to occupy the next 36 hours. I learnt my lesson as a people manager. Most importantly, what the wise Mark told me. More often than not, the answer lies in the experience.

My mom’s doctor suggested that I use a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, a half plate instead of a full plate to serve myself. That way I will help myself only to the extent of what the plate would hold. Then it sounded like a great idea.

We all have a cognitive bias to use the fullest amount of unit of resources at our disposal. Be it time, food on the plate, space etc.

My NLP guru, Sue Knight, conducted a timeline exercise in a Trainer’s training program and gave just 10 minutes! In my coaching practice, a timeline intervention usually takes an average of 15 minutes for an individual. Once, it went up to an hour. Sue is a master of challenging beliefs. I was perplexed on how the activity could be completed for two delegates (working in pairs) in that amount of time. She smilingly remarked that it is possible. She quoted Richard Bandler, the co-founder of NLP, on how any exercise can be completed in any amount of time. I learnt a new belief of excellence at that moment. A belief needs strengthening with action and reinforcement. The delegates did finish the timeline exercise both ways. Yes, in 10 minutes!

Being aware of our bias is a great starting point. A blog post or an article usually takes me a week to write, reflect, edit, rewrite and edit. That’s my bias! A unit of time bias. This article has been put together in 50 minutes flat. That way, I am choosing to challenge my belief (or bias) about the amount of time a blog takes. Now, I am taking my mom’s doctor’s advice.

I would lovingly invite you to reflect on a unit bias you have been holding. What would that bias be for you? And how would you choose to challenge yourself resourcefully?


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