“Never confuse effort with result.”
The first time read that statement, I must admit, I was confused. And a little irritated.
The problem was the statement was on the back of a t-shirt that had a menacing logo, worn by a guy with far more muscles than I would ever have. The t-shirt was cool, he was cool, and just I couldn’t order it.
Why? How could I put on a toughest shirt if I had no idea what the statement even meant? The fact that he had bullet wound scars heightened the fact that he was legit and, me… well… not so much.
I mean, I understood what the words meant individually. I was being implored to never to confuse something important. It was the lack of the “why” it was important, that I should never confuse effort and result, that had me baffled.
I couldn’t close the gap, so I dropped the saying off in my long term memory, never really expecting to hear from it again.
Then one day I stumbled upon a blog from Shane Parrish about Speed and Velocity that included a little Steve Jobs on the side.
T-shirt guy was back.
Here’s a few portions of the article:
“Velocity and speed are different things. Speed is the distance traveled over time. I can run around in circles with a lot of speed and cover several miles that way, but I’m not getting anywhere. Velocity measures displacement. It’s direction-aware.”
“People think focus means saying “yes” to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying “no” to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying “no” to 1000 things.” -Steve Jobs
The correlations that linked up in my mind were Effort/Speed and Results/Velocity.
If anyone else is like me, the first paragraph resonates clearly. A lot of energy being expended without moving the needle nearly as much as I hoped. This is where crack of insight started to shine through.
Speed/Effort gives the illusion of progress, but falls short because doesn’t make a choice in where its trying to go. Saying ‘Yes” to everything is choosing nothing, and outcome bears the fruit of that by really arriving anywhere substantial.
Saying “no” to Speed and “yes” to Velocity is the key.
Summing it up, being direction aware of our efforts allows a person to gain velocity, and ultimately get the results we are looking for.
Parrish and Jobs words provided some clarity and context to the t-shirt guy, and I am a little more confident that I will not “confuse effort with results.”
And if you’re wondering, I never bought the t-shirt. I just can’t pull it off.