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Is There A Point At Which Doing Less (But Thinking More) Will Actually Produce Better Outcomes?

Photo courtesy: TechGenMag.com

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Coach Bill Masullo sent me an email this week tapping into his network of coaches to answer the following question (btw, I did a couple interviews with him here AND here)

“I had a young coach ask me a question, regarding player commitment during the season…my question is how do you influence or address player motivation?

The short answer?  Priorities.

The following content draws from quotes in the book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown.  I highly recommend reading or listening to it.

What is Essentialism?

“Is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.  Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, of those things almost effortless.”

Questions ARE POWERFUL.

So much so, that Tony Robbins highlighted their importance saying something to the effect of…“The quality of your life originates from the quality of questions you ask.”  

I think coaches, instructors, parents, AND athletes lose a sense of their biggest priorities in life, and is the #1 reason I’ve decided to take the majority of my hitting business online, rather than run a brick-and-mortar facility.

Please note, below you’ll find the word “Question” in bold, so you can skip to them.  Yes, I know the essence of some questions below seem similar, but sometimes the same question asked in a different way turns the light bulb “on”.  Enjoy!

  1. Question: Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?
  2. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
  3. Question: What would happen if we could figure out the one thing you could do that would make the highest contribution?
  4. Question: Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?
  5. We are looking for our highest level of contribution: the right thing the right way at the right time
  6. Question: If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?
  7. Question: Is there a point at which doing more does not produce more?  Is there a point at which doing less (but thinking more) will actually produce better outcomes?
  8. Working hard is important. But more effort does not necessarily yield more results. “Less but better” does.
  9. Sometimes what you don’t do is more important than what you do.
  10. By creating space to think and focus, students can step back to see more clearly.
  11. In order to have focus we need to escape to focus.
  12. Whether you can invest two hours a day, two weeks a year, or even just five minutes every morning, it is important to make space to escape in your busy life.
  13. In every set of facts, something essential is hidden.
  14. He was listening more for what was not being said.
  15. Question: …the question you should be asking yourself is not “What, of my list of competing priorities, should I say yes to?”  Instead, ask the essential question: “What will I say no to?”
  16. Question: If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?
  17. But when people make their problem their problem, we aren’t helping them; we’re enabling them…he doesn’t have a problem because you have taken it from him.
  18. Question: What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you? By systematically identifying and removing this “constraint” you’ll be able to significantly reduce the friction keeping you from executing what is essential.
  19. This approach goes beyond just solving problems; it’s a method of reducing your efforts to maximize your results.
  20. Question: What is the obstacle that , if removed, would make the majority of other obstacles disappear?
  21. *So we introduced a token system.  The children were given ten tokens at the beginning of the week.  These could each be traded in for either thirty minutes of screen time or fifty cents at the end of the week, adding up to $5 or five hours of screen time a week.  If a child read a book for thirty minutes, he or she would earn an additional token, which could also be traded in for screen time or for money.  The results were incredible: overnight, screen time went down 90-percent, reading went up by the same amount, and the overall effort we had to put into policing the system went way, way down…the key is to start small, encourage progress, and celebrate small wins.
  22. Multitasking itself is not the enemy of Essentialism; pretending we can “multi-focus” is…what we can’t do is concentrate on two things at the same time.
  23. After a moment of reflection I realized that until I knew what was important right now, what was important right now was to figure out what was important right now!
  24. Question: What do you need to do to be able to go to sleep peacefully?
  25.  Choosing to regularly spend a whole day on that day’s priority, even if it means doing nothing else on my to-do list.
  26. …know of someone who visits cemeteries around the world when he travel.  I thought this was odd at first, but now I realize that this habit keeps his own mortality front and center.

*This is a great strategy, and one I wanted to include here.  It’s less philosophy, and more application.  My wife and I do something similar with our kids using a “sticker” system.  They earn stickers for doing certain things (productive age appropriate things), and can spend them on getting a toy (within financial reason) after earning 10 of them.  This works fantastically well for motivating young humans…

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  This was a man who understood priorities.  Do you?

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Joey Myers

I’m a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).I’m also a HUGE supporter of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

I’ve spent 11+ years in the corrective fitness industry, and have too many alphabet-soup certifications to bore you with.I also played four years of Division One baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003.

It’s NOT how you study, but what you study that counts.I apply human movement principles (or rules), validated by science, to hitting a baseball and softball.
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