“Don’t mistake effort with results.”
So said my friend and mentor Dan McMichael to me this week during a nice lunch at Sushi Station.
Too often, it seems, we give ourselves credit for doing, doing, doing the work without thinking through whether that effort is yielding quality results.
Our effort should, at the very least, produce an equivalent level of positive results.
Anything less than a one-to-one ratio of effort for results is foolish.
Our goal should be to leverage our work so that our effort yields 5x or 10x the amount of effort that we put in.
We may build ourselves a ladder to overcome a high wall, but if that ladder is leaning against the wrong wall, all of our effort may be for naught.
Getting bogged down in email, straining too hard to get a message to be 100% perfect or chasing down a deadbeat who is never going to pay us are all examples of effort that may not be yielding actual results.
One step towards better results may be thinking through the desired outcome and reverse engineering our stated goal.
We must know where we want to go before we take a step in that direction.
Otherwise, we will get lost, delayed or misrouted. And our goals will suffer.
One reason that we may mistake effort with results is that efforts can be so much easier to measure.
We know we did A, B and C to try and achieve goal X. The goal may be harder to quantify.
We can make ourselves feel good about checking things off our list, but if those things are not worth doing, we don’t really improve the situation much.
Today, let us sit and discern a bit before engaging in too much effort. Focus on the results we want and think through the desired outcome before sweating too much.