Attitude is the mental spectacles with which you look at life. The world appears dirty to those whose spectacles are dirty. To those with beautiful spectacles the world is beautiful. Your judgement of the world does not reflect the world; it only reflects the way you see the world. “When I see it, I will believe it,” is a useless paradigm. “Only when you believe in it, you will see it,” is the truth. You will get to see what you really want to see. What you think all day long, you become. The way you see the problem is the problem. Life is a mere external manifestation of your internal thought process. So, you don’t need new horizons. You just need the right spectacles with which you can see the existing horizons. The way you see life becomes your life. And one of those mental spectacles that’s leading the world in every sphere is the collective conviction of human intelligentsia: “There is a better way, always…” And, one of the proofs of a more efficient way, an effective way, an innovative way, a creative way, a better way is ‘The economy of effort‘. This is not about not valuing the value of effort. But, it is about progressing from a life of ‘Maximum effort producing minimum results‘ to a life of ‘Minimum effort producing maximum results‘. It is about liberating oneself from the clutches of ego-fulfilment derived from unwarranted effort and needless labour. It’s about the prudence of ‘Economy of Effort’. It’s about being highly efficient and effective in every endeavour, so that, lot more can be done. It is about making the maximum with the minimum that’s available.
It starts with some simple reorganisations! A place for everything and everything in its place: If somewhere you have to keep it, then, might as well keep it in a specific place. ‘Anywhere‘ or ‘only here‘ both take the same time to keep a thing but at the time to retrieval, ‘only here’ is economy of effort. A time for everything and everything in its time: Time can be managed only through discipline and not through tools. A fool with a tool is still a fool. Anytime is no time. Wednesday evenings are for review meetings, first Saturday of every month is customer meet, Sunday mornings are for satsangs, 6 to 8 are study hours, no TV on Mondays, last weekend is ‘free from technology’ family time, my first hour is my yoga hour, my every year begins with my spiritual retreat, and so on… And, outside of my disciplined hours, everything else that’s not disciplined can happen. To discipline what’s important to pre-scheduled time-slots and not risking it to convenience, makes all the difference. Not only during schooling, but also with adult life, a timetable of what is ‘important and repetitive‘ is economy of effort. Anything that can be done, 70% as efficient as you, must be delegated: Stop screaming, “Me, me, me,” for everything, and learn to delegate. Good is good enough. People will rise to the occasion. Trust your team and let go. Delegate. Never do what others can do. You may be 10 times better than others, and yet, you cannot do the work of 10 people, purely owing to physical limitations. So, get others to do what others can do, so that you can focus on what you alone can do. And that’s economy of effort.
Anything that repeats must be systematised with a checklist: Are you a frequent traveller? There must be a travel checklist. Do you perform stage shows? There must be stage management checklist. For the janitor at work there must be a housekeeping checklist. As a HR manager there must be one checklist for induction programs and one to manage takeover and exits. When the logical sequence of what’s repetitive is committed to paper, when paper or technology does all the remembering and your mind is free to think, that’s economy of effort. After every mistake, correct the system that allowed the mistake: Systematic Error Management will ensure that there is no repetition of mistakes. On project completion, audit the loopholes that allowed things to go wrong and correct the system. Turn scars into stars by using every mishap as an opportunity to make the system fool proof. Turn mistakes into learning opportunities. We cannot avoid mistakes but we can certainly stop repetition of mistakes through ‘Systematic Error Management‘, and that’s economy of effort. In all matters of life, there is a circle of concern and a circle of influence. Circle of concern is that there should be no illiteracy in the world. Circle of influence is to ensure that the servant’s daughter’s education is sponsored. Circle of concern is, “Why others are like this?” Circle of influence is, “I will become the change I wish to see.” The more you focus on the circle of your influence, the more your circle of influence expands.
Thus, progressively you become capable of doing more and more. However, if your entire focus is only on the circle of your concern, your circle of influence shrinks, which means, even what was earlier possible will no more be possible. People, who make things happen, operate only in the circle of their influence. That doesn’t mean they don’t care for the world or they are indifferent to the social evils. However they understand, it is better to start from where you can start, do what can be done, influence what can be influenced, and eventually a time will come when you will be able to influence even your concerns. Economy of effort is in operating in the circle of your influence. Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist, discovered that 80% of the output comes from 20% of input, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of causes, and 80% of results come from 20% of effort. 80% of the questions in the examination are from 20% of the syllabus. 80% of growth and profitability is from 20% of the customers. 80% of productivity is from 20% of your employees. 80% of the economy of the country is determined by 20% of the population. There is tragic amount of wasted effort and energy because there is too much focus on the 80%, which is only yielding the 20%. Almost four-fifth of everything that is happening in your life is yielding very little in return. To achieving more from the less, you must shift your focus to the 20% that results in the 80%. Economy of effort is about how you manage, control, direct and utilise the 20%, which results in the 80%. Take care of the 20%, and the 80% takes care of itself.
Destiny Designing … As important it is that what must be done must be done, it is equally important that what need not be done should not be done at all. As important it is that you give your very best and a little more in all your actions, it is equally important that you never sweat the stuff that’s not worth the sweat. As sensible it is not to take 10 months to do what can be done in 10 days, it is equally important to avoid the foolishness of burnout by trying to do in 10 days what takes 10 months. To run when you need to run, to walk when walking will do, to stand when that’s enough, to sit when it can be done that way and to lie down when that’s needed… prudence in action is what economy of effort is all about. ‘Best Practices‘ in all situations is what economy of effort is all about. Above all, absolute economy of effort is derived from aligning and living by the wisdom stated in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 47: “Thy right is to work only; but never to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let thy attachment be to inaction.” Without process excellence, there can never be excellence in results. So, always ask, “Where can I improve the process?” and also, always introspect, “Where have I improved the process?” This is the process cycle: First, define the results. Then, detach yourself from the desperation of results. Then, intensely attach yourself to the process, and direct your intelligence to Constant and Never-ending Improvement of the process. Where there is excellence in the process, the results, sooner than later, follow… and, that’s the way to progressively attain, ‘Minimum effort producing maximum results.
Written by: Mahatria Ra