Why A Little Laziness Is Extremely Important In Business

Suppose someone says, it’s possible to jump off a 200 feet cliff without any aid and survive.  99 percent of those that try  end up dying. But by some miracle, this guy survives, while doing the exact same thing with the exact method that killed 99 percent of the people. He later, proudly proclaims, “See! it’s possible to jump off a 200 feet high cliff and survive! Never mind the fact that I spent 6 months in  a Coma and am now paralyzed, but I survived! Anyone can do it as long as you believe in yourself!

This is called the survivor-ship bias. We tend to believe what the survivors say led to their survival, even if doing the exact same thing killed countless others.

In business, the most common answers that the most famous survivors give is – ” Work 18  hour days! Don’t change even if the entire world tells you that you are wrong!  Sleep only when you are dead! ”  Other entrepreneurs listen to that and try to replicate it sincerely. But most fail anyway while also ruining their health, finances and personal life.  What they don’t realize is that just because a tiny minority survived using this approach, doesn’t mean it is the right approach, because if it was, it would work for most people who followed it sincerely . But it doesn’t.

Edison is often quoted as saying “I did not fail, I learnt 10000 ways not to build a light bulb.” Upon hearing the remark, the great inventor Nikola Tesla said “Just a little theory and calculation would have saved Edison ninety percent of his labor.”

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of Linkedin says “The sort of grit you need to scale a business is less reliant on brute force. It’s actually one part determination, one part ingenuity and one part laziness. Yes, laziness. You want to minimize friction and find the most effective, most efficient way forward. You might actually have more grit if you treat your energy as a precious commodity.”

Hoffman isn’t saying one shouldn’t work hard, what he is really saying is we need to work hard on the right things and that requires a little bit of laziness. If you are always in the “GO GO GO!” mode, you won’t stop to think that there might be a much faster, efficient and less labor intensive way of doing things.  These are the kinds of people who in the stone age would have preferred to drag slides full of stones and called the person who thought about inventing the wheel “Lazy!”

Introspect on the areas in your business that are similar to you or your people dragging slides full of stones, instead of using a wheel to do the same! If you do, you will realize there are always better ways to do activities in your business. What you need to do is to always be looking for such ways, instead of getting lost in the rat race.

Here are the qualities of an ideal system

  1. Delivers a higher output with lower input.
  2. Eventually requires less people
  3. Eventually requires less time
  4. Eventually requires less money
  5. Is more scalable
  6. Should not be unlawful
  7. Should not be unethical
  8. Should not be dangerous
  9. Should not reduce customer satisfaction
  10. Should not decrease profit margin

I hope you got some thing useful out of this article. Again, there is absolutely no denying that hard work is a component of success, but if we fall into the trap of only working hard for the sake of working hard, we become like a person who insists on walking around the world, but refuses to spend money to board a plane. It maybe an odd, acceptable hobby but is disastrous in business.