Doing Less To Achieve More
The power of knowing what is best for you is also best for others
The concept of doing less and achieving more isn’t new to anyone, including me, but it's come up in a few of my clients sessions lately so I’ve paid close attention to it.
In my old incarnation in the music industry as a PR I could never have done enough work on my campaigns. I told myself this is because there was so much competition in the field. But in coaching there’s even more to compete against, yet I don’t find myself having the same problem.
Or was it because there’s an endless amount of results you can generate? But surely its not about the quantity but the quality of your work and your clients.
What’s important now to me as a coach is not how many clients I have, but how well I serve them.
That’s what keeps me happy and those that I work with recommending me to others. Isn’t this true of all creative industries? It’s not how much you do but what you do. Yet almost everyone asks me how many people I work with. What does that say about the culture in which we operate?
This ‘do more’ attitude is prevalent in western society. Productivity originally meant effectiveness but now it often equates to an extreme level of working. Most people are afraid that they aren’t doing enough. Yet when you have more things to do, you see less. When you see less, you action less and productivity slips. It’s a vicious circle.
On the flip when you do less, you can see more clearly and you have the space to improve the quality of your work. That ensures those you work with are more satisfied which means you will be also.
But what if doing less feels impossible? What if the workload really is unachievable? Then it's about two magic words.
Figure out what’s most important and get that done first.
You can’t control everything and sometimes the things you let go of work out better for it. There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”
I’ve not been writing much these past couple of months because I’ve been busy juggling my own work with helping my partner get a new business off the ground. In the process I’ve had less time to chase leads and follow up with prospective clients. The surprising thing is that I’m getting as much interest as before, meaning that with less effort I’m generating the same results.
Why is that? Its not as if we can get results without putting in any effort. But often we put too much focus on effort and not enough trust in the process. I’m sure you can think of times in your life when you’ve let go of the reigns and been surprised by the consequences.
The clients I’m working with now fill me with satisfaction so I never feel the need to overstretch myself. When one client came to me he couldn't say one nice thing about himself, so its wonderful now to hear the self-respect in his voice. Another was shattered by divorce and carrying around so much shame, yet now she’s embraced her shadows and awakened to so much about herself that she was previously unaware of.
Yet when one lady came to me last week for a taster session I recommended someone else. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I could help, I do to a certain extent, but I saw some deep rooted issues that I knew someone else had more experience with so I didn’t hesitate to tell her.
What’s changed from the me that would never have done that in the music industry?
I trust what my intuition tells me, I never put money or mind-focused logic over the power of a gut feeling and I always put the client’s needs at the same level as my own.
I trust that what serves them best will always serve me equally. And vice versa.
A few of my clients come to me with the goal of ‘making it’ so they have more time for their other halves, their children or themselves in the future. But will that magical moment ever come? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But to load yet more work on themselves and be miserable in the process seems counterintuitive.
The trick surely is to create that attitude in the present and stop waiting for an imaginary future. Prioritise and do less now to achieve more instantly. Then you can enjoy the journey and fast track the destination.
Originally published for Thrive Global