How To Put The Law Of Reverse Effort To Work For You

Last month, I shared in my newsletter that I had broken my wrist, and that I was going to use that experience as a teaching tool. I’m grateful for the things I learned and experienced, though being forced to slow down has been, admittedly, more difficult than I imagined. 

And yet, in those moments where you’re forced to take it down a notch, it’s always prudent to watch carefully at what happens as a result. What will happen when you simply slow your life down and hold space for a short time? 

Contrary to what I had imagined, my business didn’t suffer when I had to stop for a while. In fact, it didn’t even take a dip!

If I asked you not to work so hard for a while, what do you think would happen? Most people would say that nothing would get done, they would fall way behind, and when they DO get back to work, they’d have weeks of backtracking and makeup work to do. The general conclusion seems to be that it’s almost less stressful to just keep working.

Furthermore, we feel that we shouldn’t just be working – we should be working HARD – and doing it all the time!

We’ve all heard the line: “Hard work leads to success.” Or “Work hard enough and you can achieve anything!” We all sort of believe this, if not subconsciously, right? That success is inevitably waiting for us at the end of a long road of working hard.

And yet, I’m sure you know a number of people who work REALLY hard – and sadly, they don’t have the success equivalent to their efforts! Unfortunately, the truth is that lots of grinding hard work does NOT automatically produce success, and we still keep trying to make it so!

Consider this: If hard work was all it took to be successful, EVERYONE would be a smashing success! We are some of the most overworked people in all of human history! So why is most everyone still struggling?

Furthermore, how can we move forward and find a way to experience true success?

Now, I’m NOT trying to say that hard work is a bad thing in any way. When you’re working hard AND working smart, you can experience some pretty powerful results. Hard work certainly can help to catapult your business and sales to the next level.

But hear me: Running a 4 minute mile is not meant to be sustained for 100 miles! 

We end up wearing ourselves down, we lose focus and direction, and we generally make a mess of things when we are chronically overworking ourselves.

Perhaps it’s time to back off of all that hard work for a while – which, ironically, may actually help to increase your success! How is that possible? It’s “The Law of Reverse Effort,” which basically states this: 

The harder that we work at something, the less effective we are. Alan Watts described it by saying “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”

It sounds poetic – and yet in sales, it seems like it would be terribly impractical! 

But there is truth in it. So how can this apply to you and your sales?

Well, let’s talk psychology for a minute: The conscious mind and the subconscious mind are frequently in conflict with what they want to do. When they are at odds, the unconscious mind always wins over the conscious. 

And it needs regular breaks in order to be most effective.

Let’s briefly go back to highschool: Did you ever take a test after studying for a long time and yet freeze as you stared at the test paper? Despite all your efforts, you couldn’t remember anything! But as soon as you stepped away from the test, all of the answers resurfaced?

So what was the solution to your problem? 

The solution was to do nothing let the waters clear – and the answers resurface. Moving forward becomes doable again because you spent some time doing nothing with your work!

Several businesses have taken this principle to the workplace and have implemented intentional rest areas and company policies for their employees. Google, for instance, has a rock climbing wall in their facility! Another company in the UK started a 4 day work week, admittedly fearful that they were going to dip in productivity. What did they find? Exactly the opposite! Morale is up, productivity is up and employees are happier. 

Now, some may say this is simply another way to say we should be working smarter, not harder. And that is a part of it – but part of working smarter includes intentional down time – it requires us to spend some time away from our work for the benefit of our work.

Does this resonate? Do you sometimes feel like you’re working really hard, and yet only spinning your wheels going nowhere? 

Perhaps it’s time for an intentional break – before you are forced to take one! Let your mind rest for a while. DO NOTHING. 

You’ll find that sometimes doing NOTHING can produce a lot of unexpected success in your business.