deep dive #003 - are you being effective, or simply being efficient?


Mike Bledsoe hit me hard with this question during a podcast we did earlier this year… “is it efficiency or effectiveness that matters most..” It rocked my world…

I’ve always prided myself on being efficient. Honestly, it’s something I’ve never truly seen in myself, but it’s something that others have always commented on about me and the way that I work…

Perhaps it’s my German heritage, but then again, perhaps not… People tell me I’m “faster” at things than people normally are, and that my brain works at a faster speed... perhaps it’s me seeing how to connect the proverbial dots in a different manner to them, or perhaps it’s me taking deadly shortcuts… either way, I’ve come to realise the hard way that being efficient isn’t the best skill you can have, as it’s not what matters most...

There is great power in being efficient at things. It’s a valuable and rare skill to have and to hold

It’s like being able to see the puzzle finished before the first piece has been put down…
Being able to see the quickest route to take, and be able to go “as the crow flies”...

In my University days, people within my degree gave me the nickname “Mr Efficient” - I personally saw it as being able to identify what needed to be done, and then simply doing the work

Nothing complex to that at all… at it’s core essence, it’s quite simple

But my personal problem came after uni when I began my business, The Youth Academy, as I focused & prided myself too much on being efficient and not being effective…

I focused on ticking thing after thing off my lists and getting things done (which can be great at times), but I’d find myself having to go back weeks or months later to tidy things up. This, in hindsight, slowed me down and frustrated me over the long-run - as I lost forward momentum

I’d continually hit a proverbial plateau...

And this is where the problem lies, as when we pride ourselves and focus on getting the work done in the shortest and most efficient time possible, we take the focus of what truly matters - results…

Sure, it’s is an amazing boost to your ego, but does this sole focus on efficiency truly give you the desired outcome you’re striving for?

Is it providing you with the rapid influx of endorphins and neurochemistry you wish to feel, but leaving you deflated long-term...

Should we not focus more of being effective, rather than be efficient?

Results matter most…
Execution matters most…

So if it takes you a day to accomplish a task and do a 75% effort, yet your friend does it 100% in a week, who’s done the better job

Many would argue your friend… and they’d be right

Tom Bilyeu of Quest Nutrition and now Impact Theory talks during his keynote speech at USC for LeapTV about a time they tried to implement a Google style procedure

They’d allow their workers of a specific department “x” amount of their time to work on an individual project of their choosing that they believed would help move the company forward

An ingenious idea and a phenomenal intention…
At it’s core, this is an efficient idea to introduce to their company

But it wasn’t effective…

Their team members became anxious. Productive declined. And as Bilyeu says, the project was a massive flop

He goes on to state that what he learned was that “you cannot be measured by your intention alone, results are what truly matter”

In today’s society, we value speed - which is a worthy cause to chase - but not when sacrificing the effectiveness of something

When we tie efficiency and effectiveness together, we’ve hit a grand slam of a home run… it’s a white unicorn in a sense

But how can we discover if we’re simply being efficient? How can we break this complex beast down into a simple format?

Easy, we ask ourselves phenomenal questions…

  • “What would this look like if it were simple and easy?”

    If I were to break this project/my goal down into it’s most simplest component(s), what is the result I am trying to achieve… Now, what is the path of least resistance? Oftentimes, we throw this scenario out the window as we think “this would never work, it’s too easy”... and yet, because we never try we never know… and the reality is that if it doesn’t work, the hard way is still there to take… the upside, if the path of least resistance works, you’ve uncovered an efficient and effective strategy

 

  • What’s the one thing I can do today, such that by doing it, all else becomes either unnecessary or void…  This question helps you chip away all of the unessential, and focus only on those tasks which are crucial for you… it helps you identify & take those first crucial steps that will help you build momentum... momentum that is essential to continually move forward to reaching your goals. This question truly helps you identify what’s most required in order for you to do those tasks which are both efficient AND effective...

 

  • Is what I’m doing moving me closer toward my goal?

    Well, is it? Or is it simply a distraction… a shiny bright object that “looks” good and makes you “feel” good, but is simply a waste of time… is it really moving you closer toward where you desire to be, or is it taking you of-course and slowing your momentum down

If you’re not happy with your current results, or feel a little lost - ask yourself one, two, or all of these three questions… choose that/those which resonate with you, and do one of the hardest things you can ever do - sit with yourself and be honest as you answer them

It’s simple in theory, but in reality it’s not easy…

And that’s where the cliches in life come in, as nothing worth having comes easy - and if there’s one thing we know to be true about cliches in life, it’s that they themselves are true

So, my friend, are you truly being effective? Or are you simply being efficient...

Nick Maier