Like most people, I’ve adopted a level of efficiency as a survival mechanism. With three kids, a home, a career, a partner and friends, I strive for effectiveness so I can keep going without getting buried under it all. I eat leftovers, put things back where I found them, have a system for ordering groceries, do laundry in an organized fashion and clean as I go when I cook. There are definitely times and places for effectiveness.
I am most content, creative, loving and fun to be around when efficiency is not front and center.
Last week I spent a few days with my boyfriend and his family. There were eighteen of us in a cabin near a lake in Minnesota. There were no schedules, no set plans. Everyone could eat or sleep when they wanted. For the most part, we all ate dinner together, but otherwise the food and fun were available when we craved it. Getting eighteen of us showered every day seems like it would be a nightmare, but it wasn’t. We each took a shower when a bathroom was open.
I had such a good time. A crowd like that could be daunting for an introvert, but it wasn’t. I was at ease. No one dictated what needed to be done. No one rushed or corrected anyone. We just worked with each other and enjoyed the time together.
The only time I felt pressure to perform more effectively was while playing corn hole (aka beanbag toss or bags). I was partnered with Boyfriend’s sister, who is an ace corn hole player. 🙂 My anxiety about being observed kicked in, but only in small doses. The encouragement and smiles from everyone quickly dissolved any worry.
I’ve been in romantic relationships where efficiency and productivity held more prominent roles than love and comfort. In those relationships there was a sense of being judged all the time. Was I cooking/cleaning/kissing correctly? Was I active enough? Intelligent enough? Practical enough?
It is hard to trust someone who is waiting for you to mess up. Without trust, there is no ease, no effortless joy. Love does not flow when we are afraid of being judged. With trust, we can make mistakes. We can be ourselves. We can feel real love.
The sad thing is, I believe those past loves felt they were only worthy of love if they ran a tight ship. If they managed everything well, they then deserved admiration and care.
Learning is not a business
Educating humans, for one, should be understood as inherently inefficient. That doesn’t mean you don’t want effective schools, but the measure of that effectiveness should not be speed, scale, or cost per unit. — Courtney E. Martin, I’m Suspicious of Efficiency and I’m Addicted to It
I believe a love of learning is the most solid foundation to a beneficial education. I hear so many kids say they hate school. That makes me sad. I’m generalizing, but I mostly see that crushed, de-spirited look in boys’ eyes when they talk about going to school. My sons research the heck out of a subject they personally find interesting, but schoolwork is a major effort. School curriculums require educators to stick to certain material to keep test scores high. The size of classes requires teachers to maximize their time, resources and efforts by minimizing personal attention.
I used to love it when a teacher would get off on a tangent about something other than the lesson. Personal stories from the teachers always made the material more digestible and memorable. Teachers today don’t have that luxury. Teaching restricted subjects to the masses involves efficiency. Efficiency does not often foster curiosity. That’s too bad, because curiosity often fosters learning.
Humanity: Not particularly efficient
I’ve found I’m not particularly efficient when it comes to writing. I know deadlines help me start and complete projects, but in between the start and finish is a process of resistance, release and creativity.
Creativity flows. It is not easily marshaled into submission. It develops naturally, organically. Like many elements of the human condition it has its own timeline.
Parenting is another endeavor with its roots more in empathy and patience than in efficiency and practicality. Just when we think we have the best new parenting tool to use with our kids, the kids show us they cannot be corrected or configured like a spreadsheet. They have hearts and minds wild with wonder and worry. They need us to listen not lecture. They need hugs not chore charts.
Efficiency + cornhole
Efficiency is not going to go away. We need effectiveness to get things done. Our culture requires it. It is not evil by any means but we spend so much time striving to run our lives in an orderly fashion, we miss opportunities to pause, love, learn and live. We miss our kids giggling at our lopsided pancakes and bed head. We miss chances to hug our kids through mistakes and build trust. We spend more time preparing our kids for the ACT than we do preparing them for relationships. We spend more time working out a shower schedule than we do enjoying a good game of cornhole.
Keep honing your efficiency but please play more cornhole.
Are you more efficient than loving? How has that affected your relationships?
Do you and your partner clash when it comes to practicality and play? Is one always correcting and the other always crying? I can help you understand each other. Contact me for relationship coaching.
The Quiet Rise of Introverts: 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World is a guide to help tenderhearted and introverted individuals grow and nurture their peace, purpose, and relationships. Through personal examples, scientific studies and real action steps, Quiet Rise will help sensitive individuals build personal and social resilience.
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