Book Review: The Power of an Hour

by Allison McCarthy, MBA

How often have you said, “If I only had more time, I would…” Many examples I have heard include “spend more time in the field,” “track and report on my efforts” or “do more proactive sourcing.” In reading Dave Lakhani’s book The Power of an Hour, you quickly reframe your thinking. It’s not about time, but about focus.

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“It isn’t the interruption itself that kills focus; it is the lack of immediate return to the action that destroys the outcome.”

Dave Lakhani

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According to Dave, if we just dedicated one hour a day or even one hour a week on something we want to do differently, tremendous progress would result. He calls it the “Critical Power Hour” – taking you away from the daily demands for just 60 minutes to achieve a desired change.

For those of us in physician relations, recruitment, business development, marketing, etc., areas of focus we may want to tackle include:

 Assessment of Targets – are we pursuing the right group of target prospects to achieve results?

 Practice Development – are recent recruits or employed physicians practicing as expected? Is there more that can be done to market their practices to consumers or referring physicians?

 Recruitment priorities – is it time to review the medical staff development plan to determine this year’s focus? Or is it the right time in the three year cycle to update the plan?

 Reporting – can we spend time building reporting templates that will help educate the internal audience about our efforts?

His recommended approach follows a few key steps:

1. Decide what you want to change or do differently.

2. Develop a structured plan including the actions and resources needed.

3. Schedule the “Critical Power Hours” into your calendar.

4. Evaluate your efforts and adapt as needed.

Simple. Maybe even obvious. The trick is to uncover and adapt your own “focus profile.” For those of us who have learned to thrive in the world of multiple balls being juggled simultaneously, staying focused on a single effort for even an hour can be challenging. Because of those well-entrenched work habits, Dave offers some pointed questions to help us uncover our “focus aptitude.” Then he recommends that we build an infrastructure and boundaries to help us manage ourselves to be most productive.

One recommendation from Dave that I found particularly intriguing was taking “Mental Vacations.” Having been known to sit for hours working at my desk until my mind becomes frozen, I often fail to follow the rule that “energy experts” recommend of taking a break every 90 minutes. Dave Lakhani recommends intentionally structuring those breaks to rest the conscious mind so the unconscious mind can explore new opportunities. Whether it is going for a walk, listening to music, doing yoga, etc., the point is to focus only on the chosen activity and purposefully forcing your mind to stop working. The fun part is that your brain is still being productive – it’s just doing it unconsciously.

Another helpful focus period could be during the “first” or “last” hour of each day. These times may be perfect for catching up with “hard to reach” physicians, sending field intelligence to key internal stakeholders, mining the physician recruitment databases for leads or other “hard to get done” items.

No matter what has been on the “someday I’d like to…” list, Dave’s book will motivate and empower you to work on getting them done.