Monday, October 6, 2014

The River Knows How To Be Efficient

Photo by Tim Bekaert

If productivity is volume of work, efficiency is quality of work

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

Your intuitions can be wrong

In martial arts, all of your instincts are wrong. We count on you doing what comes natural so we can use our training to counter you. You drop your hands to windmill punch, so we jab you. When getting up from the ground after being knocked down, you naturally place both hands on the ground. With no hands to protect you, we'll kick your face. All your moves are wrong and in this real life chess, I can take all your turns. My skill can quickly beat your intuitions.

Fighting doesn't come naturally anymore. If you have no resources you've needed to fight for, you have no practice in fighting. A good fighter is someone who can be creative and resilient under chaos.

Your instincts are a lot like raw energy, but it needs control (and years of learning) to become something useful.

But no one can give you the will to fight.

Be a leader

We start with instincts, our gut feelings, and we build from there. We grow and develop because that's what humans are supposed to do. We cultivate and refine and make ourselves better.

Humans became the apex predator not because we had the most brute strength but because we're the most efficient, the most adaptive. It's about efficient thinking, efficient movements, efficient lifestyles, efficient eating, efficient workouts -- because time is limited. Time is our most limited resource. If time is the thing you need to account for most, then efficiency should be the top thing on your agenda.

You're already aware of time, it's why instead of efficiency, you use the ugly step-sibling called convenience. Which is ineffective because it only makes you comfortable and removes the ability to change. Produce a lot, do a lot, and do it well.

Followers talk about their intuitions and gut feelings. Leaders talk about actions and outcome. Followers want to be good at things, leaders cultivate and hone skills to be good at things. Followers trust their intuition, leaders trust what they've learned. In times of chaos or misfortune, all we can turn to is what we've learned. Good fighters don't trust their athleticism as they get older, they trust what they've learned because as they age and lose their ability, they'll soon find out if they ever learned how to fight. Soldiers rely on their training when in the field. You can build on things you've learned.

Become a leader. Find other leaders, learn from them.

Think like a river

Goals are the expressions of purpose. They can change, be flexible, have different deadlines, but are always second to purpose. Much like a river, it can bend, fork, maneuver, change, but why it exists is to meet the ocean.

Be like the river, go around obstacles. Be purpose driven. All rivers want to go to the ocean and when focused, nothing can stop them. They'll demolish everything in their path and only get stronger as they get closer to their goal. What happens when you focus on too many goals, too many distractions, lack of purpose? Rivers can be pulled away into streams, lakes, estuaries, and never reach the ocean. We get weaker not stronger as we go along. "I had so much motivation at the beginning," they'll say.

There's no multi-tasking. Just task switching and we all suck at it.

What's your "give up" point? Don't make giving up a habit, or even the slightest obstacle will have you giving up.

If you only function under perfect scenarios, in an imperfect world, when do you function? Practice to be functional under all scenarios.

A river doesn't trust it's gut, it doesn't fixate -- it's responsive, it's complex, patient, and it eventually gets there. Always.

Practices does not make perfect

Practice makes permanent. If you practice giving up, or doing things ineffectively, you may make those habits permanent. Maybe 10,000 hours of practice will make you an expert, but it can make you an expert at failing as well.

Maybe you got a lot of practice at studying, but you sacrificed sleep too many nights in a row. Now there is no more studying yet you still can't sleep because you've made not sleeping a habit. Helpful things, toxic things, they can all become a habit if you keep practicing it. How much will you sacrifice to produce? Find a balance between work and sleep, health and ambition, wealth and compassion, productivity and efficiency.

Perfection isn't always about adding more things; in martial arts it's about eliminating all weakness, all useless movements within yourself. Then strength isn't necessarily about becoming stronger, it's about minimizing where you're weak.

Most babies can do a full squat and a pull up, is it because they are freakishly strong or do they just lack the movement issues we develop as adults? Strength is a combination of power and efficiency.

The way I use the term "effort" is a balanced combination of productivity and efficiency, getting the most for the least sacrifice. You can't maximize productivity without efficiency.

An example is someone who works, works, works, then says they'll sleep when they're dead. That's just foolish and you're insuring death comes sooner. Work and sleep, work and sleep, create a system so you can work indefinitely -- to produce more work that is of higher quality than the person who just works and works a short time until they die. They never even lived long enough to get good.

Don't be a combination of low productivity and low efficiency because that's the path everyone will trail-blaze around you.

Things to learn

  • Cultivate yourself.
  • Be willing to be complex, don't keep looking for easy answers.
  • Keep growing.
  • Get better at learning.
  • Keep things that are useful and abandon things that are useless.
  • Your intuitions can be right but they can also be wrong.
  • Trust what you've learned and improve upon it.
  • Ask leaders for guidance.
  • Fight for the things that you find meaningful.
  • If you don't know what you find meaningful, start from there.
  • When you free up time, be there, be present in the moment.
  • Effort doesn't mean giving it everything you've got, it means using your skills to get the most for the least.

Source: Must Triumph

My name is Sam Yang. I'm a martial artist, entrepreneur, fitness nerd, information geek, and productivity nut. For more useful information, join my newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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