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Mastery - Day 8 - EFFORT

When I set myself to thinking about 'effort', my first thought was that this would be quick and easy to write - but as I thought more deeply I realised that it can actually be quite complicated…

People make effort in response to need - the need to avoid something, or gain something.  In ancient times it was to outrun a predator or to reach the honey in a tree top.  In that sense effort is related to some our most basic human drivers - effort is made in response to a challenge.

The greater the challenge, the greater the support required - the more you wish to stretch yourself, or your team, the more you need to ensure there is a system of support that enables the effort to be made. 
  • If you have a dream or a compelling challenge to respond to - effort will follow.

To maximise effort

(photo: NASA)
To maximise effort, a key element in performance and a key element in becoming  a master of anything, ensure there is the necessary support in place and also ensure that people are enjoying themselves and also learning - if people are learning and enjoying themselves the task begins to feel like an adventure and the effort they make will be enhanced, the effort will be more effectively made.

There is a story, I don't know how true it is, that JFK made a visit to NASA not long after the famous challenge he set them to get a man on the moon within ten years.  As he walked around he asked one of the people he was introduced to why they were there:

'I'm helping us to get to the moon sir'

The guy was in fact a cleaner and as far as he was concerned, he was contributing to the mission - and of course he was, someone has to do the cleaning.

It can also be useful, I think, and something often overlooked by employers, to understand where the challenge sits within an individual's own context.


When asked by an old boss what motivates me, I told him it was money, his response was that people respond to things that are far deeper than that and I should reconsider my answer.  I was a young man, with a growing family, a hefty mortgage on a property in Surrey - according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs I still think I was maybe about right; at that stage in my life ensuring the family were safe with a roof over their head was pretty much the priority, the motivator was money

  • Consider the context of the person you are handing a challenge to.
Set yourself a compelling challenge, ensure there is a support system - that means look after yourself, and make it adventurous - an opportunity to learn and enjoy.


Ask yourself some questions:
  • Why am I doing this?  (don't just make this an exclamation when you are frustrated - actually speak the answer!)
  • What do I enjoy about this?
  • What can I learn from this experience?
  • What is stopping me from enjoying this and how can I turn that round?

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