When I watch little children make sense of the world, I get to share in that journey of wonder they are absorbed in. It’s not the same with adults. Curiosity has all but disappeared for many who want to find solace in routines and what is known.
This is why motivational speaking, training and content is so popular. It offers hope to the lack of motivation many people find themselves pulled into.
However, for those that are committed to continual growth and learning, the world is full of wonder still. Like the child you can continue to discover the relationship between cause and effect. If you try something, you see a result or output. Whether you are building a site, writing a small book or inventing a new household item, you can see how the world responds. Once you take your knowledge and work to the masses you can find out quickly if it will garner support or revenue.
But you only have so much time and ensuring that your knowledge gains translate into worthwhile rewards makes it vital to master the cause and effect relationship.
Looking for the Asymmetry in Your Work
When you examine the habits of successful people, what you will find is an asymmetric thread. There is something that they do that has a huge payoff.
They may be able to do it because of special knowledge that they have and others lack. But the few key activities they focus on has an asymmetric effect. They understand the relationship between their high leverage efforts (cause) and the rewards it produces (effect).
That is what you should also be looking for. All work is not worth your time. Much of your work may be a stepping stone to get to something higher leverage. But if you remain in the low output areas, then you are not tapping into the asymmetry.
For example, thinking deeply about the direction of your ventures for an hour or two may be the best use of your time rather than jumping in and starting to get busy. That hour can put thousands of dollars in your pocket if you are pointed in the right direction. But it is a learned habit. You see the asymmetric relationship and instead of diving in, you think. It doesn’t feel as gratifying, but you learn quickly enough that setting direction has a much higher impact than simply grinding it out.
There are many points of asymmetry in the work you can choose. Typically, it revolves around knowledge and mastery of topics. The cause and effect relationship looks completely different than someone who has a low conversion between their efforts and work.
The same can be said for talent identification and outsourcing. The ability to pick the right person to engage can create great returns compared to stalling on recruiting or being indiscriminate on who fills which seat on your team.
So take a look around at the work you are choosing today. Much of it I am guessing you know what the relationship between your efforts and output will be. If they are low, then stop yourself from engaging. Then do the hard work of finding where to spend your time and energy that will create a much larger payoff.
Otherwise, the predictability of your choices will only lead to mediocre results. But you knew that already.