60. Building Stamina for Productivity

So, I have a little story about a strategy I use with my students. I'll connect it to the title soon, but for now, just bear with me. 

I learned a technique about building reading stamina through the sisters Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, authors of The Daily 5 and The CAFE Book. To train the kids on how to sit in one spot ENGAGED with whatever book or enrichment activity that's placed in front of them, we do an activity called "building stamina."

What I do is have a giant thermometer drawn on white chart paper. On the thermometer are numbers on the side, but these numbers represent minutes, the top number representing the goal. As a class, we start with the bottom number, an achievable easy start, and every day we tack on five to ten minutes until we reach our target goal. 

 What I use to draw the thermometer for the building stamina exercise. photo credit:  Rémi Noyon    

What I use to draw the thermometer for the building stamina exercise. photo credit: Rémi Noyon


The number I always start with is three minutes. Yes, ONLY THREE.  I'm dealing with nine and ten year olds and we can't just thrust them into silent reading for 30 minutes right off the bat. They will fidget, ask to go to the restroom every five seconds, and ask about recess and lunch. But, starting off with a small, obtainable goal does something to them. When they realize they can actually achieve the small, obtainable goal, they get excited about the next goal. They also love shading in the thermometer (which is a piece of data that actually makes them happy).

One more thing I like to mention. If they look up from their book, get up out of their seat, raise their hand to ask a question, or speak during that three minutes, I stop what they're doing and we gather together on the carpet and talk about why we did not reach our goal. Then, we get someone to model the "right" way and the "not so right" way and restart our goal. For as long as I've done this (approximately four years), it has worked EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. Folks come into my class like, "Wow, they're so quiet. They're so engaged. What did you do." It's simple:

They learned how to build their stamina.

 My kiddos

My kiddos

This brings me to a point. They're areas in my life where I need to practice that same stamina principle. One area in particular that I struggle with is waking up before 6 a.m. I just heard a quote by Dr. Eric Thomas that spoke to me specifically about this issue. He said: 

Everybody wants to be successful until it’s time to wake up at 3 a.m.
— Dr. Eric Thomas

I've found this to be true. Everyone gets motivated and pumped about getting on path to being successful in their field, dominating their lane, or, in my case, desiring to launch a series of bestselling novels. But, what is inspiration and motivation if you put no action behind it?

What does it mean to have all the desires in the world if we can't even wake up before sunrise to get more hours of productivity?

I admit to my weakness. I know this is something I have to work on, and the only thing I'm relying on is an ol' faithful alarm clock. I have an awareness that Thomas also says: 

I don’t need an alarm clock. My passion wakes me.
— Dr. Eric Thomas

I have a great understanding that our passion does wake up, but you do have to start somewhere. And just like my students who actually needed a small, obtainable goal to jumpstart their daily silent reading habit, sometimes we need the same to jumpstart our own goals. Remember it's all about small wins.

When we build our stamina in our actions, our big goals are broken into manageable chunks, and we establish a consistent schedule.

That means that if we are steady on the course of action, we'll have a greater probability of success. For me, I just have to start with a small, obtainable goal. Start at 6 a.m., then wind the clock back 30 minutes. Keep going until you get to a 4 a.m. wake up time. And then, who know? 3 a.m.?

Let's see how it works out. #BuildStamina