Brains Are Lazy and Life Is Not Pass-Fail

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How much mental effort should you put into the next thing you do?

This is a question that part of your brain answers constantly, in the background, beyond the reach of your consciousness. If the answer is, “Not much… I know how to do this thing already”, your brain takes the Tesla autopilot approach and runs the appropriate algorithm. The result might be you raising the drink to your mouth and taking a sip or you throwing a piece of trash away. If I asked you an hour later if you remembered that sip or that piece of trash, most likely you would have no memory of the action. Our brains execute these routines all the time, making life easier.

Now, perhaps a new challenge or a situation presents itself, and again you ask how much mental effort I should put into this thing? This thing happens to be completing a challenging work assignment, one that you don’t fully understand or have much experience doing.

Fundamentally, the first thing that you have to decide is whether or not to take a “Pass-Fail” or “Graded” approach to completing the assignment.

The Pass-Fail approach means that you believe that there is a bar to clear with respect to output and as long as you clear the bar this is good enough. Maybe you could call this the “Good Enough” approach. The Graded approach also believes in Pass-Fail with respect to results but takes the potential outcomes further. Delivering A+ results is superior to D- results but does take more energy and effort.

Is the result worth the cost?

Pause for a second as I tell you a story. I was helping my best friend install a fence on a property he was selling. He had a contract in place and the inspection required “a” fence but did not specify level of workmanship. We built a nice fence and I asked my friend why it was important to him to deliver more than was simply required. He said, “It’s my reputation…”

Your actions will teach those around you what kind of person you are.

Your reputation will not follow you, it leads.

Do you want to take a Pass-Fail...good enough approach? Or do you want people to know that if the work comes to you, you will do your best?

Tell your lazy brain to treat challenges as an opportunity to dig a little bit deeper, because that is where reputation gold is buried. Trust me, it’s a great investment for future you!

Written byAustin Meyermann, Founder and President of Hunter Crown, LLC

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