The Law of Least Effort in the “Zone” – Ideas At Work

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The Law of Least Effort in the “Zone”

by Bob Picha

I remember it like it was yesterday. The college coach came up to Walt and asked, “Walter, do you do anything fast? Walt slowly answered the coach, “Yah coach, I tire fast.” Although Walter seemed to move in slow motion, he was the most exciting college basketball player I had ever seen. The crowd would stand and roar when he went up for a rebound as his head sprang above the rim. He had springs in his legs. He was in his zone.

We called him “Dean the Dream” because he seemed to do more dreaming than doing. When he was on a Little League team, they put him in right field where no one hit the ball. The one day when a rare ball came headed right for him. He missed it because he was “looking for four leaf clovers.” When he graduated from Engineering School, he had ten interviews around the country. and ten job offers. Was he a straight “A” student? No! But he seemed to do much more with less effort. He lived in the zone.

Years ago, I was called in by an international fast food company to solve a major productivity problem. Prices had increased fourfold over the years, but productivity had fallen dramatically. I immediately set out to visit the restaurants with the highest productivity during the highest volume periods. Many were in the northeast part of the country. I started with the very best. In one of the most impressive restaurants, I dropped in during the busiest time of the day; the lunch hour. I sat in the corner and watched for clues. At the end of the lunch period, I was shocked to hear the manager say it was one of their busiest times. There were no lines of people. It was like watching a symphony where everyone knew the score and did their job in perfect harmony. They did more with seemingly less effort. They were having fun. The manager knew it worked, but couldn’t exactly say why. They were in their zone.

Have you ever been in that place called your zone? The only law in the zone is the Law of Least Effort. It follows the principle of Economy of Effort. Everyone knows pretty much when they are in the zone because they seem to do so much while using so little energy. In fact, at times, it feels like they are gaining energy by doing things in the zone. The question is: How do you get to the zone without a GPS to guide you? … You need a GPA (Greatest Personal Asset) evaluation.

One answer is that we all have a tool box of natural tools; tools we use that require very little energy. These are skills, abilities, and behaviors that come to us “naturally”. The tools in our toolbox are our Greatest Personal Assets.

Know your zone… your zone is not your zip code.

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