It’s a common and potentially dangerous myth that the more effort you put into something, the more successful you will be. Of course, some effort is usually required but there is the question of efficiency. Without efficiency a lot of effort is wasted.
Swimming is an excellent analogy. Because of a connection with the local swimming club, I’ve spent countless hours watching swimmers. The best ones are the most elegant and graceful as they glide through the water. They have learned how to be streamlined in the water to minimize resistance and they have tuned their technique for maximum efficiency.
Contrast this to the average member of the public who thrashes and splashes with great effort from one end of the pool to the other yet goes twice as slowly. They soon wear themselves out while the club swimmer can keep going for another hour or two!
The efficiency effect applies to all walks of life yet we are all prone to forget it.This week I’ve been busy developing new aspects to my business. It’s been an exciting time but I found a certain diminishing of returns because I kept adding effort, forgetting that the project will go much further and with less wear and tear, just like a car does, if I back-off the throttle a bit.
More broadly, if we adopt the press-on-at-all-costs mentality, we are courting stress and health issues. By contrast, personal efficiency feeds our powers of resilience because it conserves energy.
So if it is so desirable, how can we maximise our efficiency?
The key is self-awareness because if we are able to notice when our efficiency is falling off, we can do something different. If we remain oblivious, we have no choice.
Become aware of your feelings – efficient action feels good. Then your mental load is high enough for the task in hand but no higher.
On the other hand, inefficient action feels draining. Then your mental load is far higher than is helpful as you worry about outcomes, struggle with confusion and puzzle over problems.
Yet when you realize what is going on and you back off the throttle, your mental load reduces, clarity begins to appear and your feelings move to the better end of the spectrum.
There you are much more resourceful. Fresh thinking can flow into your mind from the greater intelligence that is behind all life, bringing you new perspectives and options to draw on. You will be able to see what really matters and avoid wasting effort elsewhere.
Whatever is going on around you, you will have a centre of energised calmness. You are no longer thrashing around in the water but gliding purposefully towards your goal.
But don’t just take my word for it – watch for what happens when you feel the presence of inefficient action and back off that throttle…