Optimising for what?

The good news: we’ve never been more capable, never had more resources available to us, never before had so many platforms to go do great work.

The bad news: we’re tripping over ourselves with opportunity.

We can do this, or that, or this other very cool thing. Or we can do all of that and this new latest shiny thing over there.

When it comes to activities and aspirations, we have become experts in addition (it’s fun, makes us feel good, less mortal) but we tend to avoid subtraction (it’s painful, requires tough choices, reminds us of our vulnerability).

This tendency manifests in what is known as ‘priority creep’, where our list of priorities grows over time, thus negating the value of the concept of a priority.

Faced with this bountiful overwhelm, a question I often ask in coaching is “For what are you optimising?” Put another way, what one value stands above all others?

We’ve learned from science that it’s near impossible to optimise for multiple variables i.e. you can change the formula to optimise either x or y, but not both. Sometimes you can improve both (sometimes a rising tide *does* lift all boats) but you can only optimise for one.

So, that’s the hard question for us: what do we optimise for?

Is it health? Is it wealth? Is it security? Is it status? Is it impact? Is it power?

There may well be no one ‘right’ answer for you here, but there is an answer if you’re willing to be brave enough to ask.

Every decision and action you take is positively or negatively impacting every one of the above variables. Only when we’re clear on what we’re optimising for can those decisions and actions align most effectively.

What are you optimising for?

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