November 6

Blowing Leaves

November 6, 2015

Personal Growth

Every fall I blow leaves off the lawn. I’m not compulsive about it—just a few times per season, enough to keep the wet leaves from suffocating the underlying grass.

One day last year I absent-mindedly and meticulously blew every single leaf off the back lawn. Of course by the time I got to one end of the lawn, a few leaves had already fallen at the end where I’d begun. I smiled and roughly noted in my head how long it had taken me clean off the lawn.

The next time I blew off that lawn, I reminded myself that getting rid of every leaf served no purpose, so I attempted to remove about 90% of the leaves, leaving behind the ones that stuck to the grass or were embedded in the dirt by the hooves of deer from their movements in the previous weeks.

I discovered that I could complete 90% of the job in about 40% of the time it would have taken to blow off all the leaves. That computes to a much greater efficiency than my first effort.

This principle applies to a great number of tasks we perform, and we might benefit from the lesson. Cleaning a house 90%, for example—cleaning a house “good enough” can consume 40% the time and resources of cleaning it perfectly. We might ask ourselves whether our quest for perfection in a number of areas is really worth it. Is it possible that we could achieve much greater efficiency by doing many tasks “good enough?”

If so—if we could relax in some areas—we might achieve greater inner peace and be able to devote ourselves more fully to the efforts that matter most: loving, eliminating anger, spending time with our families, and so on.

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