The One Day Contract

One Day Contract

On Monday I did a post about how being around champions, and people who push themselves to their personal best, makes me want to live my personal best.

Since writing that post I have repeatedly asked myself this question:

How do I actually achieve, and live, my personal best? 

On Wednesday I came across a new book that gives me a fantastic idea – a way to take this idea (living one’s personal best) and apply it in a real, trackable way.

It is a book by University of Louisville Basketball Coach, and Hall of Fame Inductee, Rick Pitino entitled “The One Day Contract“.

Coach Pitino shares a simple concept that anyone can apply to live their personal best.  He said that it was the successful implementation of this concept over the last several years that allowed him to bounce back from a personal low (Pitino was involved in an extortion trial relating to infidelity), regain his personal best, and in so doing, lead the Louisville Cardinals Basketball team to a 2013 NCAA National Championship.

He said that this idea was applied to everything that he, and his team did – every practice, every recruiting visit, every game preparation, every scouting report, every instruction that he gave players and coaches, and everything he did himself.  The idea was so valuable that it literally transformed every day, allowing him to perform better than he ever had performed.  Here is the idea (quoted from the book):

I resolved simply to enjoy coaching, to stop agonizing over things that did not matter, and most of all to play out the terms for the rest of my career in a series of one-day contracts….The benefits can be immense.  Ask yourself this question: Whatever your job is, whatever you’re working at right now, how would life be different if you were on a one-day contract?  How might your approach change if this afternoon, after you finished your work, a supervisor would make the call on whether to retain you for another day or let you go?

He said that he came up with this idea while watching an NBA game where a player had recently signed a long term contract and as a result wasn’t playing with any sense of urgency or hustle.  He was sitting with some Wall Street Traders at the time, and while discussing the players, they noted:

Here on Wall Street, we don’t have one year contracts or multiyear contracts.  We are only as good as our last trade. 

As a result, the traders had to live with a sense of urgency, and therefore perform their very best, every single day.

I really like this idea.  I like it so much that I am going to experiment with it.  I’m going to do a One Day Contract Experiment, and I’m going to track my progress on this blog.  Perhaps some of you will be engaged by the idea and want to do a similar experiment.  If so please reach out to me, it will be fun to try this experiment together.

Here is how Coach Pitino says that the “One Day Contract” should be organized and implemented:

  • Each day I make an “agreement with myself” to demonstrate my worth in pursuit of my goals.
  • I have to prepare the night before, and literally lay out my day (as to the actions that I’m going to take the next day).
  • I need to write my plan for the day down, and account for all the days on paper.
  • After the day is done (at night) I evaluate myself to see whether I would “hire myself again”.  In other words, did I earn another day.  I have to be really honest with myself.
  • Then I take the lessons I learned from the day, and apply them to the next day.  Rinse and repeat.
  • Continue this process as long as I desire.

It doesn’t matter if I am an entrepreneur or an employee.  This concept applies to any, and every goal.  I am to make a contract with myself to prove my worth, to the best of my ability on that day, towards my goals.

As an entrepreneur (if you are one) think about it in this light:

What if, at the end of the day, a “supervisor” made a decision as to whether or not I was allowed to be an entrepreneur tomorrow.  What if my ability to grow my business tomorrow was completely dependent on what I did today?

Or any other goal for that matter (family, financial, fitness, personal development, anything):

What if at the end of today, a great judgment was made on whether I get to pursue that goal again tomorrow.  How would I act today if that were the case?

My evaluation at the end of the day then is whether I have proven my worth in pursuit of whatever goal I am pursuing.

Coach Pitino notes that when we live this way (and he has all his players do this) then we live with a perpetual sense of urgency.  We are honest with ourselves.  We are forced to plan our whole day fully.  We cut out time wasters and things that are meaningless to our goals.  We work each day just like we would if we were on a “One Day Contract” and our livelihood depended on it.  We focus.  We make the most of the present.  We deal with fear immediately.  We go after our goals, now.

I love it.  I’m completely sold.  Stay tuned for my adventures with the “One Day Contract”, and please reach out to me if this interests you.  I would love to start a community of people living on a “One Day Contract”.

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