“Obviously, the highest type of efficiency is that which can utilize existing material to the best advantage.” Jawaharlal Nehru
That word “efficiency” has a cold, mechanistic ring to it, doesn’t it? It sounds at odds with the idea of inspiration bubbling up unbidden and mysteriously. And yet, it’s hard for me to argue with the fact that my work would benefit if I brought more efficiency to it. How about you?
Here’s how my handy Century Dictionary describes this elusive but oh, so useful! quality: 1) “competency in performance;” 2) “ability to produce the best results in operation or work;” 3) in mech., “the ratio of the work done or energy developed by a machine, engine, etc., to the energy supplied to it.”
OK, it sounds promising: When we go for greater efficiency, we’re going for competency in the way we do our work and the power to produce the best results. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But we’re also going for something more, according to definition #3: We’re going for a good balance between the results we get from the energy we expend to get them. Sounds doable, doesn’t it?
But to me, it’s the last part of Nehru’s observation that packs the most punch: We’re most efficient – we perform best and use our energy to greatest effect – when we use “existing material to best advantage.” So what materials do we have readily at hand?
Existing material #1: The time we have in which to work. For some of us, definitely me!, one big challenge is using my time most productively. When we spend this precious, precious asset wisely, our work bears fruit.
Existing material #2: The skills and experience we bring to our work. We can chase around for other things we believe we need: more research, more talent, more this, more that, but in the end, it is most efficient to fully tap into the skills and experience we have in the moment – to get the most from what we have right here, right now.
Existing material #3: The attitude and intention we bring to our work. When we bring an attitude of curiosity and playfulness, our work becomes joyful and fun: It enters the Land of Possibility, where anything can happen. And when we approach our day’s work, whatever it is, with the intention to give it our best, then our productivity is unleashed.
What’s our takeaway here? We’re rich! We have all the materials we need right here right now to do the best possible job of making our work sing and dance. What a gift! Write on!