Give your best effort because you are worth your best effort – Denis Waitley
More Than Words
In his classic book, David and Goliath, author Malcolm Gladwell asserts that “substituting effort for ability is a winning format for underdogs in all walks of life.” Effort is at the center of a full- court press. In basketball, this technique is used to throw an opponent off their game by initiating a defensive posture from the opposing end of the court instead of waiting to set up the defense after crossing the half-court line.
Effort trumps words. What we say is important but how we act on what we say is where transformation happens. Are we only known for our words, or are our words coupled with effort? No one earns the right to receive a dream. They are given. But seeing the dream become reality comes by the choice we make to apply our effort in the direction of our God-given dream. Just like a farmer doesn’t get a harvest by wishing for it, so do dreams never come to fruition by the multitude of words we speak. Application or effort is how we transfer the dream from the unseen to the seen.
A daily full-court press, which is a collection of habits we cultivate and practice, is a huge determinant of the success we see in life. Our habits, not our goals, are either helpers or hinderers to realizing our dreams. One major distinction between the successful and unsuccessful is that the former do habitually what the latter occasionally do.
But a full-court press is not simply about putting out effort. It is simultaneously about putting energy back into ourselves. When a team is playing sluggishly, and on the losing end, a full-court press can be applied to surprise the opposing team and energize the team executing the press. This shift in posture results in increased energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes a team draws the energy needed to up their effort from the crowd. Sometimes the effort from the team puts energy into the crowd.
Effort and energy are mutually exclusive. Dictionarily, effort is the work involved in an activity, while energy is the impetus that causes the motion to perform an action. Energy allows effort to be directed to an activity. Most of the time when a team loses, effort becomes the focus of why the loss happened. But before effort ceases, energy is deflated. For example, after some difficult losses in the 2016 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles coach questioned the team’s effort. In a rebuttal, one of the players offered that energy was the main culprit. In his words, the player said, “Energy swings like momentum. It is difficult to have it when you are down.” By down, he was referring to the scoreboard. According to him, energy is a derivative of success. But sometimes, success can be traded for purpose when being busy is viewed as a success metric.
Avoid The Trap
As difficult as it is to have sustained success without energy, I equally believe it is possible to consistently spend energy on losing efforts as long as we appear busy. You see, busyness is the narcotic of today. We carry the word busy like a badge of honor. The New York Times called it a “boast disguised as a complaint.” It’s a status symbol that inflates our hubris. The busier we are, the better we look and sound. There is admiration for the busy, reflected in the question, “How do you do so much?”
But under the veneer of the word busy is the addictive trap that by doing more to impress at the expense of what’s meaningful, we are more accomplished. The drug of busyness seduces us to inject more activities into the bloodstream of our day and lives, eventually leaving us strung out with emptiness because we have been shortchanged by a reality that never matched our expectations.
Being busy consists of efforts that major in volume but are minor in value. In short, it is wasted energy. Dr. Joshua Straub, the author of Safe House, calls busyness “the greatest enemy of healthy brains.” In busyness, importance is built on shaky ground that can easily cave once our busy bubble is burst by the physical and emotional toll the busy trap exerts on us. We become unable to heal from the self-inflicted wounds created by the fallacy that being busy is the only way to live. We fritter away a valuable yet nonrenewable resource; time.
Author and popular podcaster Tim Ferris says, “Being busy is a form of laziness…Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” We end up existing as busy bodies forgetting we were created for purposeful living. The trap of being busy can lead to purposeless living.
This month, we will focus on why and how to apply a purposeful full-court press in life. In addition to today’s post, here are other stops we will make along the way:
There Are No Silver Bullets (May 12)
Seed Thoughts (May 19)
Leave It All On the Floor (May 26)
Final thought: A full-court press must be attached to a viable purpose. Likewise, should effort in life be connected to something meaningful. It makes the energy put into the effort both sustainable and renewable. Success should not be the only metric to qualify for having energy. Success can be relative. More often than not, a loss of energy occurs when we lose sight of our purpose or dream. Ennui creeps in as we become less intentional about living a meaningful life and more desperate to taste instant success. With purposeful living, we can guarantee that any effort we put forth is never wasted.
Keep on keeping on!