How doing less can get you more.

By Emile De Bruin (Head Coach Meta4mance)

Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling ” The 4 Hour Work Week” and “The 4 Hour Body” speaks about a concept he calls the “Minimum Effective Dose” or MED.

In a nutshell, to get water to boil, the temperature of the water needs to reach 100 degrees Celsius. Once the water gets to that point it boils and steam is produced.

So to get the result of boiling water, 100 degrees Celsius is the magic number right?

Anything more than that is pointless and does absolutely not yield a better result. In fact attempting to “boil the water more” is stupid and will simply result in wastage of both the heat source and the water itself (evaporation).

Humans tend to believe more is better( see other examples here.)

We tend to be impatient once we decide we want something.

  • More exercise will get me to my fitness goals quicker and by contrast, eating less (basically nothing) will get me to lose weight faster.
  • More medicine will get me healthier quicker
  • More focus on my problems will take them away faster.
  • More laps in the pool will make me swim faster.

Our orientation to goals is often clouded by misconceptions about what we are really after? For example: I want to lose weight? What you really are after is something totally different, maybe gain confidence or enjoy playing with your kids or something else.

Sometimes “our goals” are actually not ours at all- they are imposed on to us by the environments that we find ourselves in (work, family, society).

When we put our mind to achieving a goal, while being ambitious and dreaming big is great, first put the situation in to context. How will having “it” serve me?


What is the bare minimum ( MED) or critical level that needs to be reached to achieve that goal?

How long did it take me to get to this point- so is it realistic to”undo the damage” I have done in the time frame I set out?

We only have a capacity of 100 per cent.

We only have 24 hours in a day, and set reservoir of will power. You can only call upon a certain amount of resources.

You can’t find 25 hours in a day. Utilisation of your resources can’t exceed capacity. If it does you will experience failure or shutdown (this is why we have Load shedding in S.A.- utilisation exceeds capacity).

So knowing this, you need to understand that if you want to achieve a goal you will need to figure out what it is you will need to stop doing or do less of. You need to allocate appropriately and redistribute your resources.

Once you know what you need to give up, and if you decide that you are willing to give that up, if its worth it to you,then you can go for your goal with conviction and belief. If you are not willing to give it up, you will never reach the goal.

“Something’s gotta give”

Then figure out the what is the MED to get the job done. That way you won’t exhaust capacity.

Why don’t you think about that over a coffee?

See how you can use strategies like this and others to get you out of your stuck state and into a place where you can be proud of your results.

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