Why a good life isn’t efficient

by Elliot Lyons

Our lives are about innovation, not efficiency. We can only be efficient once we innovate.

I know this sounds odd, so let me explain.

Being innovative is about creating something that doesn’t yet exist. On the personal level, an innovative life is one where we mould our realities after our dreams. We bring something never-before-seen into being, and this isn’t efficient.

Becoming a new person isn’t efficient because it requires we do things differently. Like a child trying to figure out how to walk, we’ll stumble, fall, run into walls, and some of us, being shaky on our feet, may even run before walking because that’s the easiest way to keep our balance.  

So, self-creation is clumsy, messy, and uncomfortable. If we work at it we can become the people we want to be by nothing other than trial and error—this is the process. Trying, seeing what happens, and then adjusting isn’t efficient because we’ll make mistakes, and mistakes cost us time and even money.

But the faster we make these mistakes and learn from them, the more we grow and the further we can push.

And when we finally reach our goals, we can look back and see how we should have done it, how we could have been more efficient with our time, and money. Now, we can use this insight to maintain what we have because we’ve been through it before.

If we become too comfortable where we are, though, we’ll again need to do something different because what got us there won’t get us where we want to go.

But at least this time we’ll know that we have to get things wrong in order to make them right, and we’ll chase failure and live for mistakes because we know this is where the lessons are.

For more on innovation and efficiency, check out this Simon Sinek interview, which was the inspiration for this article.

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