Skill vs Effort

Terrifying topics of the Future
And other terrifying topics
5th Oct 2018
From History to the Future Charlotte Kemp Futurist
From History to the Future
28th Mar 2019
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We have been on a pay-cation for the past 6 weeks, with 3 to go, living in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The view from our apartment is that of the swimming pool and the gym - a strongly reinforcing visual that has seen me work out 4 days of every 5 since we got here. Unfortunately the good eating has ensure that there are no visible clues to my work outs.
Someone else has been working out hard almost every day too. She is somewhat older than me, probably as fit (or unfit as the case may be) and her choice of exercise is swimming. She wears a pink full body, sleeved swimming costume (this is normal in Malaysia) so it means that I always recognise her.

Now let me pre-empt this next part by the confession that I am a shocking swimmer. I learned to swim as a child while I had grommets in my ears, so I never put my head in the water. I have an adult version of doggy paddle and an aversion to swimming costumes, so I am by no means an expert judge. But even to me it is evident that this swimmer is wasting her time.

She swims every day, labouring across the length of the pool, stopping for a breath two or three times before reaching the end. I don’t know know how long she has been doing this, or what her real motivation is, but if it is losing weight or getting fit or becoming stronger, then it seems to me that she may be labouring in vain.

After watching the coaching that happens besides the pools in gyms, I know what the swimming techniques are supposed to look like. I know what she might be doing to increase her resistance, improve her performance and get better results. But she keeps repeating the same vague movements, without improving those results.

Just to keep me humble though, my own daughters corrected my techniques with the weights in the gym. “Mom, you are just exhaustion yourself like that and not actually building any muscle. Here. This is how you do it.” And to think I taught them how to walk!

Okay, so I know that this is a stretch, but how many times do we repeat vague actions fantasying about a result that will never happen using the techniques that we are employing? What arrogance or ignorance stops us from asking for help to improve. Why do we believe that frantic activity and effort actually yields better results than focused, skillful attention?

I know that if I ever got into a pool with serious intentions, that my first step would be to get a swim coach, or else my time is wasted. When I return home and to my regular gym, I will book a few sessions with a gym coach to find out if my daughters’ weight instructions are correct and helpful. I found a business coach in 2018 who blew up a dozen assumptions about my business and then helped me to rebuild it, showing immediate results in my calendar and bank account.

So when it comes to you anticipating the future of your team or your organization, don’t play around with a dozen fun exercises and fool yourself into believing that you are preparing for disruption and can handle change. Find yourself a coach, a guide, someone who knows the techniques and can lead you through them to produce some visible and sustainable results for 2019 and beyond.

Then we can all demonstrate that skillful activity produces better results than vague actions.

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