My husband is passionate about music. Due to the fact that our children go to bed early his ability to practice the piano in the evening is encountering a brief hiatus. Fortunately for all of us, he has rediscovered his love of the guitar and has jumped into his training with his usual zeal and determination. Once he sets his mind on something, his commitment to practicing that skill can only be deterred by births or deaths, and his guitar playing is no exception. Every night he spends at least an hour and a half practicing and then another half-an-hour doing music research. I count myself as being a fairly committed individual but he puts me to shame every time!
A friend once told me that if a person spent five-minutes every day exploring a subject, by the end of the year they would be deemed an expert on that particular topic. I think that is probably a gross overstatement and am more in line with Malcolm Gladwell's ("Outliers") idea that it takes at least 10,000 hours to develop a skill to the point of mastery.
On the other hand, five minutes is better than no time at all, and at the moment it is about all the extra time I have, which is why I am drawn to Craig Valentine's "52 Speaking Tips" audio postcards. If you sign up, each week you will receive a five minute tip that you can spend the week experimenting with. Craig Valentine is Toastmaster's 1999 world champion and after listening to the first session I feel like I have something concrete to focus on this week. The first lesson is on finding a foundational phrase and using it to structure your entire message. His belief in creating this program is that sustained practice leads to real growth. I have seen it in my husband and countless others and look forward to giving these exercises five-minutes of my time each day.
Check them out and let me know if you give them a try: