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Intelligent Effort

Your job is to apply intelligent effort in the service of others.

Effort is work done: energy applied to solving problems. There are lots of ways to apply more effort:

  • Spending more time on the problems in hand;
  • Working faster;
  • Doing things to maximise your energy levels at work;
  • Focusing more intently;
  • Finding sources of motivation;
  • Stewarding your energy for the long haul;
  • Finding friends who will also apply energy to solving the problem.

With the exception of finding friends, all of the above are important but marginal. Strengthening your muscles is unlikely to radically transform (by orders of magnitude) how much water you can carry in a day, and focusing on the quantity of effort you apply will only bring a limited return.

Only finding friends is transformative, and friends who bring friends doubly so. Finding friends is one of the most intelligent things you can do.

Applying effort intelligently makes all the difference – intelligence helps you find greater leverage and a better place to stand. It’s doing judo against your problems, allowing you to bring down a bigger opponent with the same amount of effort by:

  • Deeply understanding the problem;
  • Learning how other people have solved similar problems in the past;
  • Bringing new tools to your work to multiply the impact of the effort and time you expend (shovel vs mechanical digger);
  • Focusing your effort on the most important things;
  • Arranging your work to build momentum;
  • Experimenting and iterating;
  • Having a clear analysis of the technical problem and the necessary wrapper;
  • Finding ways to make the work pay for itself;
  • Finding friends;
  • Finding committed friends;
  • Finding committed and skilled friends;
  • Finding committed, skilled and fun friends;
  • Finding friends – let’s just call them “good” friends – who make you better, and will bring good friends of their own.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...