When you pay $50,000 per year for mentoring, you usually want to get the most out of every phone call. But I’ve cut the last two calls with my mentor short.

After 45 minutes, I said, “That’s it. I’m good.” and we ended the call. Because I had enough to take action…and no more.

The longer you have a mentor, the better you get at being mentored.

When I hired my first mentor, I was definitely in the Founder Phase. I had owned my gym for nearly four years. I expected him to give me a marketing silver bullet; instead, he gave me the Roles and Tasks exercise. It took us months to get that done. Then we moved onto the staff playbook…

Now gym owners get more accomplished in 8 weeks of the Incubator than I did in over a year with my first mentor. And it’s simply because you’re better students than I was (well, maybe the templates help a bit.)

My second mentor basically stopped taking my calls. I hammered him so hard on the minutae that I really didn’t get the “big stuff” done. I think I wanted him to do the work FOR me. Or maybe I was using the little details as an excuse to avoid the big, hard work.

My third mentor was a lot different. Instead of piling ideas on me, we spent most of our time discarding ideas. We trimmed my buffet of opportunities down to 3, and then applied the Kingmaker equation to each: Was this idea worth my Effective Hourly Rate? If not, I didn’t do it. And when we decided, I hung up and got to work right away.

When I visited Jason Atkins at 360Insights, a billion-dollar company in the incentives industry, he told me he uses the same strategy when he attends seminars. Atkins pays for the seminar and books a hotel for the weekend. But he plans to stay in the seminar ONLY until he learns one new thing. Then he folds up his laptop and returns to his hotel room to work on the new strategy.

Others at the same seminar might learn more. But NOBODY takes more action. And you already know the punchline: education without action is meaningless.

Ryan Holiday is helping me out with my next book, “Founder | Farmer | Tinker | Thief”. Our phone calls cost $1500 each. They’re worth it. And even on the very first call, I hung up after 45 minutes because my action list was already becoming too long. I had a choice: to spend 15 minutes making small talk, or to spend 15 minutes taking inspired action. So I hung up.

Last night, I was on the phone with Ann Maynard, the editor of the new book. Ann’s brilliant, encouraging and I learn a lot on every call. But after only TWENTY MINUTES, I knew my next steps, so I ended the call and spent 40 minutes taking inspired action.

The meter doesn’t stop, of course. I don’t get a partial refund for not taking the full hour. What I get is a window for optimized work.

I’m in the Tinker Phase. I don’t need more ideas. I don’t need inspiration anymore. I need clarity.

If I can achieve clarity in 45 minutes–or 20, or even 5–then I’ve already gotten tremendous value from the call. Back to the desk, back to work!