The Law of Expansion – Growth Always Increases Your Capacity
“Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.” – William Arthur Ward
Here is my version of some of John’s ideas to increase thinking capacity.
More Work vs. What Works
I clearly remember one of the interview questions I was asked: “you have several important projects and you won’t have time to finish, what would you do?”
My response: “I’ll probably stay up all night working on it to try to get it done but I’ll also ask my manager which one to pick first.”
For 7 years, I just ignored the second part of my answer. I worked as long hours to finish the “important” projects and meet deadlines. I sacrificed sleep and personal life. And while I got a lot done, I can’t say it was the right choice.
I was grumpy, complaining about silly things, and stressed all the time. Not good for me, my reputation, or mental health.
Today, after reflection and lessons learned, my approach to work still has similar commitment but with a different flavor. My first reaction to a task is not asking how long it will take to do but what’s the most efficient way to do it. I look for a simple and straightforward solution. Rather than worrying about getting every detail right, I focus on obtaining the appropriate result and what best fits the circumstances.
You see, I have come to realize that something that’s 80% accurate and complete is better than something 100% perfect but late.
Can I vs. How Can I and 1 Door vs. Many Doors
Working the 80-90 hour weeks and pulling the all-nighters once a week was all fun and games in the beginning. But like everything in life, craziness gets old after a while. Since there was much work to be done and not enough time to do it, it was the natural reaction to start thinking one-way only.
My first reaction to everything was “Is it possible?” or “We don’t have time to do this right…so we can’t do it”. According to my “extensive” expertise, I was sure my way of thinking about a problem was the only way and the right way of doing it. Therefore, if I thought I couldn’t do it in the time available, I just looked for ways to shut it down and bring the “let me tell you why it won’t work” speech. Classic!
Today, my first thought is “how can I get this done with the time I have available and with all the other stuff I have to do?” The answer to this question can go from working more hours, to postponing other projects, to sacrificing pin point accuracy for relative benefit/deficit.
The key for me has been recognizing that no task is a do-or-die situation, and that solutions are many.
I now understand that the answer is not “Yes” or “No”, it is “Yes, but…”