This simple piece of wisdom imparted to Luke by Yoda has significant meaning in today’s world focused on “result oriented” and “bottom line” meanings of productivity. Yoda is talking about effort and the value of taking pure and simple actions to do what must be done; he is talking about taking action even when we are not 100% sure of the outcome, and about recognition of efforts made as valuable even when the outcome is not what we projected. In this scenario, we recognize productivity as the efforts or actions made to bring us closer to a goal or projected outcome. The implication here is that trying involves less effort than doing and that in order to be productive, one must do, not just try to do. This philosophy implies that we must commit to action no matter what, and that all of our efforts are worthy.

Our office has had several discussions about productivity and feeling productive and while there are a lot of different points of view and techniques, being productive boils down to simply spending more time doing (taking right actions) and less time organizing or thinking about doing; taking right action does not mean writing and re-writing check lists, but rather refers to steps or actions taken that bring us closer to our goal. As productive individuals, we must discern which of our actions are most productive, and which are not.

All too often we become overly focused and obsessed with larger outcomes and results and we miss the pertinent information that becomes available in smaller, productive actions. Being too focused on a particular end result can starve us of the process of trial and error and can actually impede us from being productive human beings; it can hinder our ability to see the big picture and keep us from acknowledging the success of each and every effort.

Don’t get me wrong, a desired outcome, or goal, is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is worth having an idea of a desired result. Problems arise when we become short-sighted and stuck and do not recognize, or value, the actual effort. Being too focused on results can impede our performance and make us unproductive; far better, to value yourself and each and every action.

The old adage “A” is for Effort designates a tone of “oh sorry you didn’t get it right, but you tried”. The message pretends that effort is being rewarded when actually it smacks us in the face with failure. If we look at effort as doing, and not trying, then the “A” is warranted. Each and every effort we make toward a goal is to be valued in and of itself without being subjugated by the end result intended.

The next time you find yourself feeling disappointed or unsuccessful step back and acknowledge your efforts and recognize the value in the right actions you have taken. Every effort is a brick being laid on your wall toward your ultimate goal. Each brick has value and is important to the laying of the next brick. Instead of discrediting the smaller efforts you make, highlight them and value them.

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