Note: I'm on vacation, so I'm posting some of past writing that never made it to the web. We'll be back to our normal programming next week. Cheers.
I spent the last week or so "performing sub-optimally" - not exercising, feeling tired, a bit beat up, and so on.
Hence this week's question:
"Am I recovering?"
Maximizing is not the same as optimizing.
Productive, ambitious people (of which I will assume you are one - and among whom I count myself) tend to believe that getting more out of themselves has to do with doing more.
This is a completely understandable position. I want to do more; to do more, I should...well. Do more. Right?
The issue is that most systems actually perform worse if you maximize their output.
Imagine a car - if you want to get to your destination quickly (your daughter’s birthday party, let’s say). It makes sense to simply slam your foot on the gas and maximize your engine’s output.
Doing so, however, produces wear and tear on the engine - and rapidly increases the chance that you will simply break down.
The damage produced more than cancels out any increases in speed you gained, and you end up at your destination later, not sooner. Your daughter is crushed, she never forgives you, and you now hear from her maybe once a year on a strained and awkward phone call….
To THE PRISON WHERE YOU LIVE BECAUSE YOU ARE A MURDERER NOW!!!!
As I was saying.
In fact, there is a point at which an overall system’s performance will degrade if we push it’s output too hard. By trying harder, we make things more difficult.
You see this in the gym, where lifting weights provides numerous health benefits...but if you lift too much without adequate rest, you lose progress.
You even see it in shoes. Next time you buy a pair, buy two pair instead, and alternate between them every day. They end up lasting as long (on average) as three pairs of shoes, worn consecutively.
(This is how rich people get rich, by the way. They invest their 33% shoe savings.)
If you are a productive and ambitious person, recovery can often feel like waste; but, in fact, it is as necessary to optimizing your performance as the active work that you do.
So, ask yourself:
"Am I recovering?"
Better Questions Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.