“The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.” ~ Colin Powell
How many times have you tried harder? Did it yield the desired outcome? Always? Sometimes? Rarely? Trying harder is your natural response when skills, strategies, or situations are not working as you want or expect. Other people, wanting to help, may tell you to increase your intensity, give more effort, or try harder and it will get better. All of these imply that you need to do more; you just need to try harder to get success. Unfortunately, that is the opposite of what you need to do.
Trying harder increases your stress responses, raises your anxiety, and hurries your mind. You get caught up in the emotions, especially fear and anger, as you become distracted by what isn’t working. As a result, you make more errors, focus on what won’t work and raise your frustration. Continue trying harder and you will find yourself in a spiral of increasing negative results, as your mind and body get out of synch, interfering with what you want to do.
I know most of us have been there. But what did we take away from those experiences? When a skill, strategy or solution is difficult or not happening as you expected, slow down and divert your focus elsewhere. Take a couple of deep breaths, relace your shoes (or whatever act aligns with your effort) or move on to a different skill or situation; all can shift your focus quickly and immediately. By interrupting the emotional and physical states that were interfering with your task, you allow your mind and body to find the appropriate energy, intensity, or different approach needed for success.
Increasing your intensity or trying harder will not change the nature of the task, only your responses to it – for the worst. By approaching your task or situation in a different state, you give yourself a chance to comfortably respond. The more you apply this approach, the more you will learn to succeed at anything, especially the most frustrating things.
If you are looking to accomplish tasks more efficiently, consider these ways:
- Complete every task! Leaving an activity half-finished is stressful. Whenever something is only half done, it gnaws at you and stops you from focusing on other activities. When you complete a task, a rush of endorphins is released into your system making you happy, pleased and relaxed. It provides the energy to continue and complete the next task.
- Focus your energy on the most important tasks. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the value you create in a day will come from 20% of the tasks you perform. Meaning, if you complete those 20% you will have done much more than if you complete all the rest. Find ways to focus more time on the most important tasks.
- Take a break! The best way to save time is by relaxing. to be able to work efficiently, you need to be of sound mind and able to focus. Take a break once in a while. Go for a stroll, take a nap or drink your favorite beverage.
Even with intensity you can think and act differently. The results may surprise you. 🙂