Make the Most of the Time You Have Left (By Doing Less)

art of encore living personal development Nov 14, 2022

Aspiring and advancing difference-makers set goals and develop strategies for making an impact (and a living).

Many well-meaning change agents often think about what else they can do to amplify the reach and impact of the difference only we can make.

After all, human beings are programmed by biology (hello dopamine) and evolution (hi there, status anxiety) to chase more.

But will doing more get you closer to what you really want?

Actually, no. In fact, quite the opposite.

Imagine that the difference you make results from implementing a system—components working together to achieve a purpose.

The reliability of that system (or any other system) is a function of the product of its component parts, not the sum.

For example,if you want to lose weight, you might adopt a program based on three core principles: count calories, drink more water, and move more daily.

If you do not exceed the calorie count, drink the requisite amount of water, and maintain your movement goal every day (100% of the time), weight loss is guaranteed (100% reliability).

But nothing is perfect.

And the least reliable component of any system is the people involved (AKA “you”).

So let’s paint a more realistic picture of our example.

If you maintain your calorie count 60% of the time, your water goal 40% of the time, and your movement target 80% of the time, what’s the reliability score?

Well, 0.6 x 0.4 x 0.8 = 0.192. Meaning the system is 19.2% reliable.

Now, taking out a component will raise the reliability score. But in this case, the three component parts are essential.

So, how about if we add a magic pill that is 90% effective at facilitating weight loss?

Let’s do the math.

0.6 x 0.4 x 0.8 x 0.9 = 0.17.28 or 17.28%

The addition of a near-perfect component actually reduced the system’s reliability.

What to do?

Well, let’s start by taking away the magic pill. That get’s the reliability back to 19.2%

What else can you do?

Raise the floor of the weakest component.

If you increase the reliability of meeting your water drinking goal to 50%, your system reliability score rises to 24% (an almost 7% increase).

Assessing and improving the reliability of the systems in your endeavor will profoundly impact your impact and bottom line (and help you cultivate a greater sense of equanimity and thriving).

What non-essential components of your coaching business can you eliminate (subtract) to increase the reliability of the overall system?

Which essential component is the weakest? 

What happens if you raise the floor of that component’s reliability score?

And then do the same with the next least reliable component.

And then the next?

How might a more disciplined approach by the weakest component in your system (yourself) change everything?


Scott Perry, Encore Life Coach at The Art of Encore Living

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