Reducing Your Work to its Simplest Form

For me, there is something magical about the number 5. My clients know this well, as I often pull their attention to that number. There is some cool science behind the number 5, but I use it simply because I have found it to be effective in helping me focus on what is important.

One of the tools I help my coachees employ is a concept I simply call “YOUR 5-Point Plan.”

I’ll keep this as simple as I can. It works like this:

If a coachee is challenged to improve their public speaking skills, I am likely to ask, “What would be ‘Your 5-Point Plan’ to achieve that?”

Coachee: I need to improve employee engagement in my organization.
Me: What would be your 5-point plan to achieve that?

Coachee: We need to raise more money next year.
Me: What would be your 5-point plan to achieve that?

Simple, right? Try it. Think of a challenge you are facing or a goal you would like to pursue. What would be your 5-point plan for achieving it? As elementary (almost insulting) as it is, it requires one to think. It requires the coachee to pause, and forces her to articulate the primary methods and approaches that she knows will take her where she wants to go. Invariably, my coachees are able to come up with 5 meaningful actions that will advance their cause. They simply hadn’t paused to ask themselves such a specific question and put the answers in writing.


Remember simplifying fractions in middle-school math? 50/100 = 25/50 = 5/10 = 1/2.

Now, take each of your 5 points, and ask, “What is my 5-point plan for THIS item?” Break each point down until it cannot be broken down any further.

Example: If one of the 5-points in your plan for raising more money is to offer online giving, then develop a 5-point plan for that single item. Perhaps it looks something like this:

  1. Establish a Paypal account to accept donations.
  2. Build a web page that includes the link and the ask.
  3. Launch an advertising campaign on Facebook to promote giving and direct people to the online giving link.
  4. Add online giving option to our paper pledge forms.
  5. Develop giving incentive for online donors.

Can any of these items be broken down further? (HINT: Yes! For example, what is your 5-point plan for #2 — building the webpage?) If so, you aren’t finished! Things get done when we reach the level of articulation that provides a crystal clear picture of the specific actions that must be taken NEXT.

Remember — Goals are not actions.

Whether you use a to-do list (which, by the way,  is usually insufficient), a calendar system, or a wall of sticky notes, it is critical to “simplify” the action steps down to their lowest forms, just like fractions.

Your teacher may not have said “simplify” the fraction. Perhaps he instructed you to “reduce” the fraction to its simplest form. That’s the idea here. Your 5-Point Plan system reduces the chunk of work facing you to its simplest form.

Wouldn’t we want that for all our work?

That’s The Jinks Perspective!

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