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Video: How hard should you work WITHOUT over-working it, whatever it is...?

advance priorities the ladder video Jun 06, 2017

I worked in churches and nonprofits for the better part of the past 20 years. Before that, I interned, volunteered, and worked part-time with church youth groups. As a result, I’ve preached a TON of sermons and taught a LOT of lessons. 

Some were excellent- a lot of them were junk (just being honest!). 

I say that because I had the distinct advantage, I think, of working on the craft WHILE I was on the job. I got to “earn and learn” at the same time. And, to be blunt about it, speaking in public is a lot like swimming. You can read books about it, you can listen and learn some great tips on what to do, and you can watch others do it themselves. However, at some point, you’ve got to just jump in and go for it yourself. The only way to really learn to swim is to swim; the only way to learn how to speak is to speak. 

I can usually tell when someone is new to the craft. They do what I did for the first few years I was speaking… 

* They throw every single idea into their sermon, message, speech, or talk. 

* They use every bit of time available- and even go long :-)

* They go "info heavy"- and speak more from the head and less from the heart

The first two are the ones I want to talk about right now (though I've certainly done the third AND can still fall into that rut). Somehow, to me, it felt like a moral imperative that I relayed everything I’d learned throughout my studies to everyone who was listening. Sometimes, this resulted in sermons that had 8 or 10 points to them (even if I didn’t number them that way); often, it meant speaking for an hour or more. 

We had a great group of people attending our church, and they’d listen well and follow along. (I even prided myself that I could keep their attention for an hour or more. And, let's face it: any gifted speaker can, right? Especially when people are interested in the subject matter...)

However, could they really be expected to “get everything” I was dumping on them? Was it fair for me to expect to study 10-15 hours that week on a particular topic (a topic I was ALREADY extremely familiar with), then think they could “get it all” in a 60 minute mind dump? 


“Less” stuff actually is “more” powerful 

I finally learned that when I spoke less, people remembered more of what was said. It’s almost as if the information got so cluttered when I relayed a BUNCH of info that they couldn’t remember any of it. 

That's right. When I said LESS, they actually remembered MORE!

* When there was only one idea… 

* When there was only one concept to hold onto… 

* When there was one image that people could visualize, building everything around that mental picture…

Generally, they could remember everything. That’s right: everything

I came to terms with that fact that I could say a WHOLE lot and leave people’s minds cluttered with too much to do anything with, or I could say a LITTLE and they could walk away with ALL of it, knowing exactly what to do.

The result is that I tend to communicate in simply concepts now: 

* I use a ladder to talk about the what, why, how, who… and how each one gets you higher, faster

* I talk about two kinds of healing

* I use easy ideas like bridges, reverse engineering, a rubberband, and buses… (if you’ve been to an Advance weekend, you know what those are!)


Depends on what you want to achieve

True story: one time I spoke at an event and used one of the concepts above. The person who hired me to speak wasn’t impressed. It was too “easy,” they said.

Yet over a year later, people could still remember what I spoke about and the action step I gave them. To a guy who spoke a few times a week in “church world” and knew people would forget what they heard in a Sunday sermon before they went to work the next day, remembering a concept for a year is a HUGE win. 

That means this: 

* You've got to make a choice between MORE or LESS- and it is an intentional decision

* Some people won't like the decision- and some of them will be influential people

* You still get to make the decision :-)

This post isn’t about speaking, by the way. But, communication illustrates the topic of this post extremely well. You see, the concept I want to address is the “minimum effective dose” (MED). 

What’s the MED?

Well, think of it like this: “To boil water, the MED is 212 degrees F (100 degrees C) at standard air pressure. Boiled is boiled. Higher temperatures will not make it ‘more boiled.’ Higher temperatures just consume more resources that could be used for something else more productive” (Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Body. He also addresses this concept in The 4-Hour Chef).

In other words, the MED is the amount of time + energy needed to make something happen. It’s the tipping point. Far from being a “what’s the bare minimum I can get by with” type of thing, the MED recognizes that:

* Our time + energy is consumable AND finite (we don’t have an inexhaustible, endless supply of either)


* Overdoing something often has negative ramifications instead of positive ones


The Law of Diminishing Returns (LDR) = where did all the joy go?

The second point I just mentioned is important. Sometimes, in doing more, we actually achieve less. Remember what happened when I spoke for an hour and gave people 8-10 points? Right- they forgot everything I said.

But, when I took a different approach and simply gave them a single idea, one unique image… well… they remembered everything. Sharing more words with the audience wasn’t better; it actually worked AGAINST what I was trying to achieve in the first place

This is actually a “law,” by the way. And, just as gravity is universal (regardless of whether you believe in gravity or not!), so also do this law of diminishing returns  (LDR) apply to overdoing things by going too far beyond the MED.

Yes, you can go beyond that threshold… but you do so with some degree of risk.

Let me break it down for you- in the real world- 

Every Halloween my kids go trick-or-treating. If I’m lucky, they come back with a few Almond Joy bars. Since they’re “fun size,” I eat 3 or 4 of them. Then I’m done. 

Well, I’m done for 20-30 minutes. Then, that taste that lingers in my mouth beckons for more. So, I dig through the colored pumpkin pales until I locate 2 or 3 more. 

It never fails. 

* The first 3 or 4 taste awesome. I don’t eat candy that often, so a little pile of AJ’s are an amazing jolt of joy.

* The first of the seconds tastes pretty good, too. It’s the icing on the cake.

* By then, though… the icing is just like any cake icing. Too much of it and the thing that originally drew you TO the cake now repulses you. 

The law of diminishing (LDR) returns comes into effect that dictates that with each new encounter, the amount of joy (read: the return) is a bit less and less… until there’s no joy at all. In fact, sometimes it’s just pain

Freedom to stop

This diminishing returns thing happens once a week or so when I boil water to make instant coffee in the morning. I fill the pot, set it to boil, and walk away. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come back to a pot in which all the water has “boiled off.” More heat didn’t make the water better for my coffee fix; it had a negative impact and I had to start over. I’d surpassed the MED.

Athletes know about overtraining. More training isn’t always better. At some point, you just start injuring yourself. 

Dietitians know about underrating. More calorie cuts isn’t better- there’s an MED. Cut too many and your metabolism shuts down, your body starts storing fat, and your weight loss plan jumps the tracks. 

One more example (lest I hit the MED on examples, right?!)- 

How many of you mind if a friend post something on their Facebook wall about a home biz they’re doing? I certainly don’t, for a home biz that Cristy started a few years ago financially turned things around for us. It also created time freedom and facilitated opportunities we never thought we’d have…

One post… even one post every now and then… well, that’s the MED. It’s enough to let me know what’s going on, what they have to offer, and how it might serve me or my family. 

But a post a day… well, that creates a negative impact. It gets kinda spammy, right

You can literally determine the MED in every area of your life, for every dream or goal the you have. Rest assured, there IS one for everything you face. It is a law.

* Making your kids sit still at the dinner table = great. Making them sit still for a few hours = beyond the MED.

* Calling or texting your wife a few times a day to check on her = awesome. Bombarding her every 15-20 minutes = annoying + definitely beyond the MED.

* Morning prayer or meditation = a great way to start your day. Thinking that you have to do this for an hour or more or you’re less spiritual = debilitating, and heading into the law of diminishing returns. 


Why the MED / LDR matters

You see what I’m saying? 

The point is simply this: If you’ve got a goal, a dream, an ambition… something you’re working towards… get in, get what needs to be done done, and move on. Come back and do it another day. 

Knowing the MED for your exercise routine, your kids hobby, your reading, your home business work hours… everything… actually shows you when to stop working (hint: it’s always BEFORE you feel like quitting, just before you hit the tipping point and start moving into the LDR). It creates more margin + more joy AND that’s always a great thing… 



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... the "no for now, not for later" concept. Go to: 

Or, the "more isn't better" post located at 

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