The Plimsoll Line

Mark Matteson Blog

Samuel Plimsoll

English Merchant ships were sinking in the 1800’s leaving London. It turns out they were overloaded with cargo and didn’t know how much was too much. In 1876, Samuel Plimsoll was commissioned to solve the problem. His solution was simple. Samuel employed three simple steps:
“Show me a ship empty. Make a mark on the hull.
Load the ship as you normally would and draw a line on the hull.
Now remove 20% of the cargo and draw a third line.”

Ships stopped sinking. It was a watershed moment in Naval History. It became known as the “Merchant Shipping Act”. By law, as a captain, you could not load a ship past the “Plimsoll Line” else you be fined and dry docked.

As captains of our own ships, we all have a Plimsoll Line. We all eventually figure out “how much is too much”; how? By setting a Big Goal in any area of our lives. Spiritual, Physical, Financial, Interpersonal, Family. What do you want, truly desire? How much by when? Why do you want, really? As you begin to go from HERE to THERE, calibrate from day to day, week to week, how much is too much by your emotions and physical responses. Pay attention as the distress ensues. You will be out of your comfort zone.

One client of mine said, “Most people are operating on a fraction of their potential. They are in a kind of lock step. They show up, go through the motions, and are, for the most part, ineffective, doing just enough not get fired. On the job retirement.” I know this much. Until I set my new and challenging goal, I had no idea how much I could do until I tried to do too much. So what to do? How can we become more effective?

Why not try “The Hour of Power” for 90-days as a test? This simple yet profound process has three parts:

The first 20 minutes entails writing down your big goal in a journal or legal pad. Write it as if it were already true. The Four P’s. Personal, Positive, Powerful and Present Tense. “I am so happy now that….” and as you write it out, smile. Your next step is to THINK. Think about actions you can take, books you can read, new ideas to implement. Quantity matters, not quality. List as many as you can think of in 20 minutes.

The second 20 minutes rewrite your “To Do” from your list. What are the six most important things you can do. Only six. I have found few of us have time to actually get all six things done in a single day. Prioritize your list 1-6. If you were going out of town tomorrow for 30 days, which item would you do first? Of the remaining five items, which one is number two? Once that is complete, ask yourself how long you feel each item will take to accomplish? (30 minutes? 1-hour? 4-hours?)

The last 20 minutes in this magic hour is to read a book in alignment with your goal. Underline, highlight, gather ideas and inspiration in your journal from the books you read. Read at least five books on your goal topic over the next 90 days.

If you are willing to try this, changes will happen. You will become incredibly effective using this process. You will be doing the right things, as opposed to doing things right. The key is to stick with it for three months…every day, for an hour.

The net effect of employing this process the last 90-days, my platform skills, my energy, my enthusiasm, and positive client feedback have all improved. I have changed for the better. Ideas for improvement have gushed from a fountainhead, many times AS I AM PRESENTING. I am incorporating IMPROV in my facilitation with astonishing results. After the presentation, I making the time to ask in my journal, “What went well?” and “What could I improve?” I can feel myself improving. I tell you this not to self-aggrandize rather to hammer home the point, THIS WORKS! Like magic. Referrals, new business, repeat clients are happening with very little effort on my part.

How much cargo is on your ship?

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