Half Measures Usually Do Not Lead to Half Results

By Greg Baer M.D.

July 28, 2012

Today I worked outside with my eleven-year-old grandson, Brad. We dug the footings for a concrete block wall, which also involved digging post holes every thirty-two inches, so we could anchor the wall deeply in the ground with concrete columns.

In order for a concrete column to provide effective support for a six-foot wall it has to be dug at least two feet into the ground. That's no small thing to accomplish in Georgia woods. For the first six inches, there are roots spaced every inch or so--vertically, horizontally, and every other direction--that have to be cut with clippers, because the post hole digger doesn't easily cut through them. Deeper than six inches is solid clay, nearly as hard as rock.

It was very hot and humid, and at one point Brad said, "You really are sweating."

"True enough," I said.

I had been furiously slamming the digging instrument into the ground with all my energy, so he asked, "Why don't you just put less effort into it, and then you wouldn't get as hot?"

So I showed him. If you drive the digger into the hard clay with half the effort, you get virtually no penetration of the clay at all. "With some things," I said, "half efforts don't give you half results. They give you nothing. A certain amount of force is required to penetrate hard clay, or to cut a tree root, or to lift a concrete block. If you do less than the amount of effort required, often nothing happens at all. In many cases, you could do half-measures all day and get nothing. What if I spend all day lifting an eighty-pound bag of concrete with 70 pounds of effort?"

"The bag would just sit there. You'd never lift it."

He understood, and I explained that the same is true with many areas of life other than simple manual labor. If you exercise half faith, for example, you get nothing. Half faith means trusting a person—or a principle, or God, for example—when there is enough evidence to justify it. That's really no faith at all. With half faith, I'll doubt and withhold my participation in anything or with anyone where there is a lack of proof that my action will be effective, and I'll choose to doubt most of the time. You can always find reasons to doubt.

Real Love requires great gobs of faith. Complete faith. Without it, you trust no one and connect with no one. With half measures—half faith, which is our custom—you get no connection and no love, either to receive or to give. 

Full faith may SEEM more difficult—for brief moments—but it's really not. Only with full faith can you dig the post holes and make a foundation and structure that will be strong and will last. With half-measures you build structures that fall apart, and then you're mystified how it happened.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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