Stop Trying So Hard!

I learned very early on as a leader the importance of simplicity and the importance of not trying so hard.  When I was a Prison Warden over 10 years ago, I remember having regular meetings with my key staff to discuss what could be done to simplify their job and to encourage them to stop trying so hard.  Many times the answers to the simplicity question would be things such as: minimizing paperwork, reducing bureaucratic log jams, streamlining of central office vs. prison facility processes…

On the other hand it seemed to take more time for them to understand the concept of “not trying so hard.” Often times they felt as though the inmates would respond better if they were “over the top” or their supervisors would notice them if they tried really hard.  They had to learn the difference between being a hard working, get er’ done, follow the rules and do what’s right type of employee and an employee that simply tried way too hard.  The reality was the employees that tried way too hard were the ones that caused most of the problems in our prison facility.

I’ve always valued cultures of simplicity and not trying so hard.  I also value cultures of high performance and although people may think the two are mutually exclusive, high performance and lack of the over the top “trying so hard” go hand in hand.  High performance and doing what’s right, the right way will begin to come natural.  Just think how natural it feels when the Chick-fil-A employees greet you with a smile and a “My Pleasure.”

When the leader falls into the “Trying Too Hard” category, it creates problems for everyone.  Relax, chill and Stop Trying So Hard!  The people that you are trying to impress can see right through that mess. Focus on creating a culture of Simplicity & Not Trying So Hard.

Some examples of ways to create a culture of simplicity and not trying so hard can include:

  • Stop trying so hard and making everything a”Big Deal.”
  • Help “over-the-top” employees find an appropriate balance.
  • Avoiding knee jerk reactions.
  • Embracing the “5 Minute 5 Phone Calls” concept.
  • Allowing your team to have some space, allowing your team to do their job. (Avoid Micromanagement)
  • Reducing the amount of paperwork, steps, hoops, processes…
  • Creating a culture of healthy conflict and the minimization of drama.

Share your thoughts, experiences, opinions on the importance of Simplicity and Trying Too Hard.  How have you seen either side of this coin play out positive or negative?

  • Oh – I am right there with you. I am soo on board. 🙂

    • Scott Williams

      smile 🙂

  • This is interesting. I think a lot of people think that they need to work so hard to avoid a “good enough” attitude that they end up over-complicating things. This is an idea worth sharing!

    • Scott Williams

      Thanks… I believe that you are right

  • Scott,

    In simplicity there is freedom from being able to focus and clearly define what ones role is in the organization.

    There is a spiritual deminsion, when a person is secure in their identity in Christ, the “trying to hard is minimized.”

    Pastor Derwin

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