Sometimes you draw inspiration from where you least expect it.
Earlier this week I headed up to Birmingham for a conference where Lord Jeffrey Archer was the headline speaker.
It was an event organised by the Entrepreneurs Circle, an organisation which helps small and medium businesses get better at what they do.
In the past its headline speakers have include Lord Seb Coe, Sir Steven Redgrave, Karren Brady and Levi Roots among others.
And to be honest Lord Archer was someone I wasn’t that excited about going to see.
But after his 90 minutes of expertly holding court and skilful story telling he shot to the top of my all-time favourite speaker list.
He took us through the highs and lows of his incredible career as an author.
He didn’t shy away from discussing his spell in prison for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
Where his talk really captured my attention was when he shared his approach to work.
When he is writing a book, he is ultra-disciplined and divides his time into two-hour blocks.
He’ll start writing at 6-8am then have a 2-hour break then work again from 10 – 12 followed by lunch and another two-hour time-out. He repeats this process until 10 pm when he heads to bed.
When he is proofing one of his books he’ll head away to Spain for a couple of months and insists on not being disturbed. At all. No matter what.
This is something I really took on board as during my working day I have countless distractions. Most of them can wait and are not urgent matters. So, I’ll be asking my team to take much more notice of the Do Not Disturb sign which is on my door when I really need to focus on something.
Lord Archer has sold more than 330 million copies Worldwide. A staggering amount and he puts a lot of that success down to some very basic, even ‘boring’ things.
Discipline – He sticks to his schedule religiously.
Focus – He protects his own attention by making it clear he’s to be left alone when he’s writing or proofing.
Organisation – He prepares meticulously so that he gets the most from his working days.
And interestingly Lord Archer mentioned how good luck had played a part in his success.
However, he swiftly added the caveat that he was always fully prepared to make the most of any good fortune which came his way.
It was a reminder to me that all sustained success is based on those fundamental basics Lord Archer outlined.
And that made hearing his story a day out of the office very well spent.
Thanks for reading.