I’m often asked the advice I would give someone looking to build a business, expand a farm operation, start a new company, etc… this is a tough question with many moving parts. But one of the most important ingredients has to be the “speed” at which one chooses to make decisions and move. I’ve learned this lesson many times in my life and often find it to be the Achilles heel to many of my friends and family. Benjamin Hardy recently wrote a very interesting and thought-provoking piece titled “Parkinson’s Law (on Steroids): The Single Principle for Immediately Expanding Your Confidence and Success”. I encourage everyone to read it in full detail. I’ve included an abbreviated version that was e-mailed my direction below. It is well worth the read and the thought…
Parkinson’s Law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
If you give yourself a year to do something, it will take a year.
Give yourself a week, it will take a week.
There’s another way of applying this concept, though, that could wildly improve your life.
The notion is simple:
- If you give yourself a year to do something, it will take a year.
- If you give yourself a month, it will take a month.
- If you give yourself a day, it will take a day.
Strategically applying Parkinson’s Law is one of the easiest ways to cut the unnecessary “fat” from a project.
When you proactively give yourself less time to do something, you’re forced to focus on only those things that produce the desired result.
This is why Parkinson’s Law has often been coupled with the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, which states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Taking it slowly in an effort to be “right” is a waste of time and a cowardly way to live. Instead of overly thinking about or “perfecting” your idea, the far better approach is to quickly get to 80%.In order to approach learning and growth this way, you must have confidence in yourself. You must be willing to throw yourself “out there” and be willing to figure out the rest on the fly.
You must also be open to having your mind changed! Rather than egotistically trying to prove you are right. You must expect to be surprised.
We avoid making big decisions because we are afraid of what will happen. Yes, risk should be calculated. Don’t jump off a cliff.
But at the same time, taking a leap into a new circumstance or role is the fastest and most aggressive way to learn and change.
You don’t need to have it all figured out. You can never have it all figured out. Feedback is the key to learning. You only need to know that you feel good about the decision. Then, you need to courageously jump.
Over time, your confidence will be built. Once confidence is built, you’ve adjusted to your new circumstances. Your subconscious has caught-up to and adapted to your courageous actions, and now, it no longer requires courage. Now, it’s your new normal.
Your job, then, is to continue upping the ante. As a human, you’re going to adapt to whatever circumstances or forcing functions you’ve placed on yourself.
This all reminds me of the quote from the British philosopher, Alain de Botton, who said,
My question for you is: Do you have the courage?
Are you willing to jump?
How fast are you willing to learn?
How far past 80% do you need to go in order to make a decision?
The closer you need to get to 100% certainty about a decision, you’ve already wasted a lot of time. You’re probably not getting results. And chances are, your whole notion about the decision is wrong anyways. What you need is feedback. Your ideas and decisions need to be “tested” and “adjusted” in the real world. Not just in your head.
As this image shows, when you first initiate a new and intense change, the effort required and “pressure” will be high. However, over time, you will adapt to your new circumstances and it will require far less effort.
If you attempt to grow slowly, you won’t experience the immediate and powerful feedback you need to be successful. You’ll dramatically slow your own progress.
It’s better to drink from a fire-house and adjust the lever as you need. Will you experience a greater emotional “shock”? Yes, but over time, you build massive self-confidence.
Over time, it stops being so painful. With increased confidence comes increased ability to make decisions quickly. You can gather relevant information faster and immediately begin moving forward toward results and learning.
Because you’re confident, you know you can adjust to whatever comes your way. You know you can figure it out.
Does it still take courage? Absolutely. But underneath that courage is a whole lot of confidence, propelling you forward.
There’s one more IMPORTANT reason this principle is so key: Life will FEEL just as difficult either way. You will still have problems, challenges and responsibilities. But you only grow as your “sphere” grows. If you move slowly your sphere grows slowly…