[by Judy Herrmann]
This past Fall, my 9-year-old daughter started learning Viola as part of her elementary school’s strings program. Like most music teachers, Ms Vaughn wants the kids to practice every day. But what’s novel about her approach is that she asks them to practice for just 5 minutes per day. Years of experience have shown her that a small effort performed consistently will garner far greater results than sporadic larger efforts.
Her findings parallel every expert I’ve heard speak on how to grow a business effectively. Most recently, it was Agency Access consultant Andrea Maurio in ASMP’s Business as unUsual webinar, Successful Promotion with Mail and eMail, who noted “I always think of consistency as the secret sauce.”
But knowing it and doing it are two different things, so Ms. Vaughn created a simple reward system to increase participation:
She gave each child a simple chart and asked parents to initial a box for each day their child practices. The first day gets initials followed by 01, the second day, 02, and so on. Each day, the number next to the initials grows unless the child misses a day of practice and then it’s back to 01. To sweeten the deal, Ms. Vaughn ties a colored ribbon onto the instrument for each 2 weeks that the child practices continuously.
This system has completely shifted the dynamic for my daughter. She now takes full responsibility for making sure that she practices. She takes great pride in the growing collection of ribbons on her viola and is determined to keep those numbers by my initials growing.
What does this have to do with running a photography business?
I don’t know about you but there are SO many tasks that I know I should do and yet I find myself putting them off day after day after day. Right now, I’m entering yet another career reinvention. As I start this now familiar process of researching viability, lining up informational interviews and mapping out a business plan for this next phase of my career, I’ve made a commitment to perform small but meaningful tasks to move this process forward every single day. I’m keeping my own chart and have promised myself rewards for consistent practice over time.
Since implementing this system, I’ve yet to miss a day and, like my daughter, I look forward every morning to watching that number by my initials grow.
Judy Herrmann loves finding great tips for photographers in unlikely places…and, for that matter, likely ones, too. Check out her consulting site: www.2goodthings.com, for more of her suggestions on how to earn a living doing what you love.