Synergy and Focus for Accomplishing Your Goals
Synergy – Multiple Weaponry
Increasing Your Power Exponentially
In nature, there is a concept called “synergy.” In fact, MaxOKÂ® itself is based on the advantages of synergy. When two or more different things combine together towards a common goal, the resultant effectiveness is more than simply the arithmetic addition of the individual items. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
To illustrate, a lot of people take TylenolÂ® for pain. The active ingredient in TylenolÂ® is acetaminophen. On the other hand, sometimes doctors prescribe codeine, which also works as a pain suppressant. But if you combine acetaminophen with codeine, you get a pain suppressant which is much more effective than if you simply increased dosage for either acetaminophen or codeine individually. In other words, component small amounts of acetaminophen plus codeine are more effective than a single large dosage of either acetaminophen or codeine. In fact, the resultant product is so effective, that it is called Tylenol-3Â® and is prescribed by doctors for serious pain.
As you may probably have concluded, the reason why combining these two chemicals together produces such a dramatic result, is because of synergy. This is a very powerful principle, and it works in all areas of life, regardless of whether you’re mixing drugs together, or cross-training. By allocating your resources towards a common goal, you will increase their effectiveness exponentially, and will often need to use less of each resource to achieve the same result. Therefore, you can increase your MaxOKÂ® level, and perhaps have more resources remaining after the achievement of the objective. The use of synergy does not mean that you can put MaxOKÂ® aside for a while. Until you are without a shadow of a doubt certain that your objectives will be achieved or have already been achieved, you cannot afford to reduce allocation of resources towards that goal. Remember, unless you achieve the objective, all resources allocated to it will have been totally wasted. The real value of synergy is that the objective would probably be achieved in less time, energy and money.
Concentration Of Power – Advantages of Focus
Cracking an Egg and Other Such Things
The concept of “concentration of power” is intricately related to the above two concepts. It is easier to describe this concept by the example of cracking an egg open. If you had to make a sunny-side-up – salmonella poisoning notwithstanding – you take the egg, and hit it sharply against an edge, and pour the contents into the frying pan. But did you know that you are applying the concept of “concentration of power?” If you were to apply the same pressure you did while hitting the egg against the edge, but spread that pressure all over the egg, you would fail in your attempt. The egg is constructed by nature to be so strong, that it can withstand the force of even a jet-plane wheel if the pressure is spread evenly throughout its surface. In fact, this has been done as a dramatic demonstration of the geometric advantages of the dome-shape for use in architecture.
One further example can be found right under the sun. If you put a piece of paper in the sunlight, it will just get hot. But if you take a magnifying glass and concentrate all that sunlight into one spot, you will succeed in burning a hole in the paper and even creating fire – and all from the same amount of sunlight. The critical difference is focus – concentration of power.
You can apply this concept to your goal achievements. Don’t spread your resources so thinly that you don’t get anything done. By focusing your forces, a swift and powerful attack can be executed, resulting in more rapid and effective objective achievement – compared to diffused set of attacks against multiple targets. With multiple targets, you have to spread your energy around. This is somewhat similar to the non-use of MaxOKÂ®, when you are trying to do something with minimum effort. The key problem is, you may not succeed. By concentrating your forces, you stand a much better chance of victory. Concentration of power is intricately related to MaxOKÂ®.
Some people may think, “but what about the phrase ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket?'” Well, that phrase has its own wisdom, but what it really says is that one shouldn’t be so oblivious to other options, that if the present task fails, there is no backup – no contingency plan. When applying for a job, you don’t just go to one employer and see if he hires you. You go to several employers. But at any given time, when you decide that a certain employer deserves your attempts to get hired by him, then you apply MaxOKÂ®, and put the other objectives on the back burner.
The use of MaxOKÂ® and concentration of power depends on good judgment. I have no immutable rule that you can follow to determine what to MaxOKÂ® and what not to. Only a fool would MaxOKÂ® a totally useless objective. The general who commands his troops to destroy a target which is not strategically important would probably lose the war when the enemy doesn’t even care that you annihilated that useless target. The smart general would have in effect a contingency plan to provide defensive capability even if the target turned out to be a useless one. The smart student would have other choices to take if he or she decides to discontinue a certain assignment, or drop a certain course. But while doing the assignment, he or she doesn’t spend resources on the other ones. It is only when the primary objective fails – that is, does not deserve any further time or effort – that the student resorts to choosing among the remaining options. And that is what not putting all your eggs in one basket means.
The wisdom of this proverb and the concept of MaxOKÂ® are not mutually exclusive.
Time Warp – Failures and Regrets in Life
What mistakes really mean and why they are valuable
Presently, I would like to draw attention to the term sunk cost, and lead into a discussion regarding mistakes and regrets. In the jargon of economic theory, sunk costs are expenses that are “sunk” or lost. They are “written off” and forgotten. Sunk costs are projects that failed, research that goes nowhere, marketing plans that sold nothing. By halting further resource input into the sunk projects, companies avoid wasting even further money, than what they have already wasted. The analogy is “folding” your hand during a poker game, not to maximize your winnings, but to minimize your losses.
Sometimes, people ask me whether or not the existence of sunk costs is an implicit argument against MaxOKÂ®. Their reasoning is that the continued allocation of resources towards a failed plan would be similar to the gambler who has been losing badly, and yet continues to gamble until he has lost everything. In this manner, the reference to sunk costs may seem to undermine our concept of MaxOKÂ®.
Now, contrary to the above line of thinking, I refresh you memory again that the use of MaxOKÂ® requires good judgment. When one realises that a certain method of achieving an objective can be classified as a sunk cost, and should be abandoned, that does not mean that the whole project is abandoned. In other words, the term “sunk cost” is only applicable to the individual component “mistakes” that are inevitable along the path of success. In other words, each “sunk cost” should not be abandoned and forgotten.
The rationale here requires some faith in the universe, and in yourself, for it is my belief that sunk costs are not really worthless, or true failures. Sunk costs are, in effect, very expensive lessons. The reason why I say that is because even though in certain instances you may feel that you need not have “paid” so dearly for such a lesson, if only you did this or that, or taken so-and-so’s advice, the reality is that you did pay dearly, and you did learn the lesson in such manner. In fact, what other people experience is, for the most part, inconsequential to you because you are the only person in this world who can live your own life. In other words, perhaps those “mistakes” were the only way you would have learned the lessons, and not otherwise.
If in fact you were able to travel back in time – not unlike the Terminator – would you have been able to change your future? Not likely. The caveat of time-travelling is that your memories would be erased (most science fiction stories have it wrong). Without knowledge of the future, at any given moment, people are making the best decisions to their ability. Again, this is an inborn survival trait. Your mind wants to, and does, make the best decisions it can. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but deep down inside your mind, there has to be a good reason – or so your mind perceives – for everything that you do, and all the choices you make. We will return to this topic of figuring out why your mind tells you to do certain things, but for the time being my point is that people should not regret their actions. Sunk costs are “losses” viewed from a pessimistic perspective, when in fact they are “investments” in lessons that would not have been otherwise learned. For every mistake you make, know that you have eliminated yet another possibility, and are that much closer to the correct method, and success.
Thomas Edison failed in his perfection of the lightbulb some one thousand times, before he arrived at the correct method. He did not regard any failure as a “mistake” but said that every time things didn’t work out, he had discovered yet another way not to make a lightbulb. In such manner, he put forth all his energies towards the ultimate goal – he used MaxOKÂ® – while realising that failures were merely temporary obstacles towards success. Therefore, when you realise that a particular avenue of action is not working out, stand back, and assess the situation. Don’t stop the whole project. In all achievements, there has to be more than one way of winning. If one method doesn’t work, try another. Don’t abandon the entire project. Like the wise general, use your “contingency plans.” Edison rejected the individual mistakes, but did not “write-off” the entire project as a complete “sunk cost.” If he had called a full stop and dumped the entire project because he had “one too many” mistakes, then his mistakes would really be sunk costs in the full economic meaning of the term. Everything he had done would have been truly wasted – and his mistakes doubly so – because the final goal of making a lightbulb would not have been achieved. Since he did not do that, and continued experimentation, the end result was the successful realization of his vision, and the lightbulb came to be.
Perhaps someone other than Edison would have solved the problem in less time with less mistakes, or perhaps would have taken more time, and run into more problems. These conjecture are of no value. The fact is, Edison was the only person who struggled with his problems and ultimately succeeded. In like manner, only you can challenge your own problems, and only you command your energies towards their solution. Learning from other people’s achievements and losses is only part of the process. In this vast universe, regardless of what you have and have not learned from other people, after all’s been said and done, when it comes down to making choices, the final and ultimate act of decision still rests upon you, and you alone.
MaxOKÂ® – Recap
Reviewing the concept of MaxOKÂ®
To wind up our discussion, let me emphasize an aspect of MaxOKÂ®: I created the term to denote more than the simple nifty contraction of “maximum overkill.” MaxOKÂ® encompasses all of the ideas we discussed in this chapter, but the main point I wish to draw attention to is that MaxOKÂ® stresses intelligence and good judgment. The power of MaxOKÂ® is a combination of the value of careful judgment, and the effectiveness of supreme firepower. In the contest between brain and brawn, MaxOKÂ® is the best synthesis of both worlds. Remember, you, of all people on this planet, know your own situations better than anyone else. Deciding when to abandon a particular action and choose another is a judgment call and requires some courage on your part, but be brave. As Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Or, to paraphrase Eddie Rickenbacker – an American aviator – there can be no courage if there is first no fear. Now, it’s time to improve your brain with a…