Have you heard the story of an Ant community, which lived and worked happily until a Grass hopper thought of doing a study to make the system more efficient. So he hired a Cockroach as a manager. The Cockroach had a secretary to do all the back end work that the cockroach thought was important. They then hired an auditor to make sure all the paper work was done properly. They hired a Supervisor to follow the routine activities of the ants. The ants were now always under stress and tension of completing the work, which earlier used to be effortless for them.
Effort, I believe is overrated in several ways. Anything that comes with ease doesn’t seem to have the same value, as something else that you have broken your back for. This is a very strong belief system that most of us hold. Whilst it is true that some things may need effort, it is once in a while important to see whether it is ‘our need’ to put effort or the situation really demands it.
Whether you open and respond to all your emails the whole day or you set out two hours each day to respond to your emails is a choice that you can make. There will not be much difference in the result yielded hence. Many processes are so simple that they can be done very easily and sometimes all you need is a click in this computer savvy world. However you will see many people putting in a lot of effort in very simple things. Example, people would travel long distances for a meeting, where a Skype would save time, money and effort. Ok, for some meetings you may need that personal touch, but believe me you, for most others it is just your belief system that is dragging you around to meet people personally. The probability of success is almost the same in both personal as well as meeting over Skype. Well this is just one type of example. There are others where, due to our value or need for contribution, we just go all the way to prove ourselves, where something could be easily delegated. I have seen people go through several proposals and rounds of negotiations and then closing at a rate, which you realize is not worth the value of time and effort spent on the activity. In organizations this is more rampant as showing that effort is needed can buy more time, it can get more budgets and resources, and meanwhile the stone doesn’t fall too far. To show that something is simple or easy is actually counterproductive for most of the people working in organizations. The organizational systems seem to value effort more that ease. If something is being done with ease and comfort can actually psyche the people around. When you look stressed and putting in a lot of effort, you get valued as a team member as well. I remember a incident when I was working with a consumer goods giant. There was a ingredient, which had failed a test. Everyone was focusing on the problem and kept looking at how we can correct the ingredient. More than two man days of top manager meetings were held to brainstorm next steps. When I came to know of the issue, I had laughed and suggested there was no need to correct the ingredient through expensive processes. The ingredient was perfect to make an alternate product. The idea was immediately implemented and the ingredient used in another product line, without much ado.
I have always been a person of ease, as I am very possessive about my time and for me self-care is a value which I have developed over years. I know the value of effort and I know it is important. But doing a cost-benefit analysis has always helped me decide where to put effort and how much. Another question, which I ask myself often is, what could be a simpler way of doing this?
To find a balance between effort and ease is important, as experiencing both creates a flow of energy, which makes even effort easy.
Few questions which you can use to find your balance of Effort and Ease:
1. What is the Purpose of this?
2. How is it connected to my Purpose?
3. What am I trying to prove?
4. Is it worth my time and effort?
5. How can I do it in least possible time?
6. How can I simplify it?
7. What is at stake?
8. Who are the beneficiaries?
9. At this time you may find your solution or you can loop back to question 3.
Initially this process itself will look a little cumbersome, but soon you will realize that even if you have used this process twice in your Effort and Ease balance, it becomes a part of you. It will happen with Ease.
So best of Luck in finding your Balance!
Image Courtesy: http://underthebluedoor.org/2014/04/17/grant-me-the-stormy-seas-over-a-life-of-ease-the-toil-and-madness-of-a-life-of-effort-and-adventure-and-meaning-the-safe-harbor-is-not-for-me-not-for-long-let-the-fearful-stand-at-the/