The Superpower of Showing Up

Saturday, August 21, 2021

By Etin Obaseki

“Effort vs Effect” is one of my favourite phrases. To my mind it espouses conservation of one’s energy for the work that will yield the most impact. But there can be a danger to this mindset as analysis paralysis can creep in while one tries to find the optimal point for effort and effect.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the impact of consistent effort. Similar to the investment principle of dollar cost averaging, by continuously putting in a high level of effort, we can reap immense and outperform the potential returns from an attempted optimization strategy like the “Effort vs Effect”.

Always, always easier to improve and finish than it is to start. Always remember that.

The first secret to doing anything at all is to start doing it. You can’t improve on something that doesn’t exist. If you do have something, anything at all, you can tinker with it, fiddle with, ask for help, make mistakes with it, refine it until it as you envisioned or perhaps better.

Shitty first drafts are the birthplace of great published pieces.

Iteration is the basis of innovation. I read ‘How To Fly A Horse’ — a book about how creativity is not the rare privilege of a few, but something available to all thinking beings — and his description of problem solving — or creativity 🙂 — resonates. There’s no other way to solve a (new) problem except through iteration. For known problems, you can skip steps and look at someone else’s solutions. Ideally, you’ll be able to take this now general case and extrapolate from there when facing a similar but new problem. That’s essentially what learning is. The incremental build up is apparent in all the famous build systems. A notable example is how mobile phones have evolved their front facing cameras to solve the problem of having more space on the screen. Unfortunately, I seem to have stopped reading at page 46 :'(.

Invest in compounding effort, even when it doesn’t seem to pay immediate benefits. The effect when it all comes together is always worth it. Of course, you have to be sure what you’re investing in is actually compounding and subject to multiplier effects.

Inertia is, perhaps, the greatest opposition to progress — in any sphere. It’s easier to just keep doing what you have been. My recommendation is to make a habit out of breaking monotony. Every once in a while, in some small way, do something different. It’s great practice for being able to easily get started on bigger things.

Ever so gentle reminder, that insurmountable odds are made up of smaller, much more favourable odds. Divide and conquer the problem. Separate the difficulty into its constituents. Even after doing this, you might still fail. Might still be overwhelmed. But at least, you’ll go down swinging.

So, do the hard work and show up. Muster the discipline. And in time, you’ll be able to to reap the rewards of consistency.