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The opportunity cost of being tired

You’re probably familiar with the old saw about sharpening the saw. Or Frog. Or Razor.

Or the importance of unstringing the bow.

I’ve always understood this as being about efficiency: a dull saw cuts more slowly (hint: you are the saw), which wastes energy and slows things down even further. Keep on working with a blunt saw for long enough and a breakage or accident will stop the work entirely.

Yesterday I was reminded that being tired can carry even bigger costs in terms of missed opportunities:

  • The partnerships that you turn down because you don’t have the energy to move in a new direction
  • The key conversations that you miss because you avoid networking (“I don’t want to meet anyone new!”)
  • The learning you stop doing because you don’t have room for anything more in your head
  • The problems (and room for growth!) in your team that you fail to spot early, because you’re too flat to pay proper attention
  • The big picture, strategic thinking that you do best when you’re fresh… but you’re so rarely fresh.

Effective execution is critical, but losing the energy and enthusiasm that you need to do generative work – work that has the potential to multiply the impact of everything you do by two or ten or a hundredfold – is fatal in the long run.

Staying fresh is part of your job.

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