Whatever you want to have, do or accomplish this coming year, it’s almost certain that you will need to invest effort to accomplish it.
There’s generally no way around doing the work, and doing it consistently.
(There are some exceptions to this: if you want to be an aunt or uncle, for example, no work required on your part 😉).
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming that you’re no stranger to hard work, and that you’re willing to put in the effort. In fact, you’re likely really diligent about doing the work.
But what if you don’t need to invest as much effort as you think you do?
What if your persistent and consistent investment of effort actually undermines your results?
I realize that in our culture, shaped from its inception by the Puritan work ethic, this concept can be hard to grasp. We have a long-entrained belief that hard work is necessary for to rise to great heights in life.
The lesson of doing less, learning to receive as well as give, has been a consistent chapter in the annual lesson plans that life hands me. Although I’m making improvements, I still struggle with it in almost every area.
The most tangible place it shows up for me is in my weekly trampoline practice.
This is a real trampoline, not a rebounder. Here’s a picture to give you context:
The Rhythms of Bouncing
Consider a trampoline. As you invest effort, or force, the trampoline bed depresses below the “neutral” of its frame. Then the springs bounce back, forcing the trampoline back up to its frame. This force propels you up into the air. The more force you invest as you hit the trampoline bed, the higher it will propel you. This is simple physics.
One of the principles of the trampoline is that you want to get out — receive back — at least as much energy as you put in. Trampoline is a rhythm of give and take, investing effort and receiving in return the thing you want — in this case, more air time. Greater heights.
My biggest challenge — and I’m not alone — is in what my coach calls “allowing the trampoline to do the work.”
When I’m doing a trick, like a front summersault or a twist, I tend to initiate too early. Sometimes even while the trampoline bed is still depressed. I might try to twist “off the bed” or initiate rotation for a summersault before I’m at the top of the bounce. It’s a persistent habit that I work on breaking.
When I rush the trick, I must expend more effort and energy to complete the move, and I’m not as high above the trampoline bed.
In other words, I invest more effort but the result isn’t as good.
When Less is More
When I relax and let the trampoline give back to me, I have more time. I don’t have to work as hard, and the result is better: a cleaner twist or rotation, and a solid landing. A feeling of floating weightless in the air for a split second.
The patterns I work on the trampoline appear in the rest of my life , including my work. In fact, they appear throughout nature. Because that’s how nature and patterns work.
Give and receive.
Effort and grace.
Work and rest.
When we ignore these rhythms, we end up working harder and receiving diminished returns. We undermine our efforts.
- Where are you investing too much effort?
- Where can you attain a better result by doing less?
I’d love to hear what comes up for you; please share in the comments.