Capacity, efficiency and effectiveness

Last week, I engaged in a nice chat with a young professional. I experienced her to be full of curiosity, intellectual firepower, and energy. She asked questions about self-directed growth, skill acquisition, and how to cultivate her own compass.

A few of the questions she asked centered on the theme of efficiency. How do we know if the path we’re on is most efficient? I recall being a fresh graduate, asking similar questions of others who I felt had answers, and feeling let down when the answer was prefaced with “it depends…” The greatest thinkers of our history always have a point of view.

My point of view is this: it’s too early to think about efficiency.

In physical endeavors, we’re consumed with athletic primes. There is a window of highest potency. This window is real.

In intellectual endeavors, we can relax back. We’re always in our prime. This is also real. The caveat is to be aware of what the prime is. In our 20s, we’re in our prime for capacity. In our 30s, we’re in our prime for efficiency. In our 40s+, we’re in our prime for effectiveness.

If the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our questions, then the question of efficiency is not a high quality question in our 20s. Capacity is the mother attribute to cultivate in your 20s. Capacity is the key to fostering an understanding of our inner compass.

Take more on. Say more yeses. Expand your capacity. Take on 100s of things without knowing where it’ll take you. The process itself leads to inquiry of what’s important. Feel the frustration of taking too much on. Frustration is the key ingredient in the recipe that you’ll want to bypass, but you can’t. Frustration is un-channeled passion. Feeling it is essential to discovering your passion. With frustration as your ally, you’ll find yourself chipping away at the non-essentials until there are only the few essentials left.

Capacity and frustration leads to efficiency.

How do we know if the path we’re on is the most efficient? Your frustration will lead you towards it.