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When efficiency is inefficient

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“Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

Photo by Joseph Greve on Unsplash

I know you’ve heard this before on this blog, but it bears repeating. Your brain is built for efficiency. Understanding this simple fact can create awareness and compassion for that biological wonder inside your head.

Google defines efficiency as follows:

  • ( of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort.
  • (of a person) working in a well-organized and competent way.
  • preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource.


Maximum productivity

If you don’t feel like maximum productivity quite aligns with your brain, you’re not the only one.

Yes, efficiency is about maximum productivity, and believe it or not, this is what your brain accomplishes every day. It just accomplishes it in alignment with all the beliefs in your subconscious mind. Your conscious mind may tell you that getting everything on your to-do list equals maximum productivity, but the thoughts deep within your subconscious may instruct something else.

For example, if you consciously know you should budget your money, but in your subconscious mind there is a belief along the lines of “I can spend money because it doesn’t matter anyway”, your efficient brain is going to follow the subconscious instruction and create the actions to prove the belief true.

Your brain was efficient, but efficient in creating a reality based on a belief that in turn could make your life harder and create inefficiency. 



Competency creates efficiency. When you are competent, you have the knowledge and skill to do something successfully.

Your brain is very competent. It is very skilled at creating the current reality of your life. It just might be a little too competent at creating things you don’t want.

Consider the habit of being late. If you have this habit, I’m going to bet that you are very competent at it. Somewhere, in your subconscious mind, there is a neural network creating this behavior pattern. In some way, your brain considers being late the correct way to survive on this planet.

That might sound strange, but the efficient brain doesn’t do things for no reason. There has to be programming instructing the behavior, and the instructions were learned somewhere.


Avoiding Waste

The last part of the definition of efficiency is preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource.

An extremely important thing to understand about the human brain is that for as powerful as it is, it’s fairly primitive when compared to how quickly we’ve evolved our society.

The brain is highly concerned with energy, and considers it a precious resource. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago that food was far more scarce. We didn’t have the infrastructure we do now to deliver food across our globe. We didn’t have the ability to preserve or store our food properly to keep it from spoiling quickly. Starvation was a very real concern, and incredibly still is for some parts of the world.

This is one of the prime reasons to have an efficient brain. When energy gets scarce, there is still programmed behavior in the subconscious that can be activated with less effort than it takes to activate our conscious mind. And that programmed behavior will hopefully keep us alive long enough to find more energy to consume.

Your beautiful, efficient brain is just following the written instructions formed long ago to survive the environment it assumed it needed to survive in. If it’s a world where everyone is always running late, it runs late. If it’s a world where people turn to alcohol to control stress, it drinks alcohol. If it’s a world where money is scarce, it keeps money scarce.

Your brain efficiently proves your beliefs true, and that can get very inefficient when it’s not getting you what you consciously want. But if you explore those beliefs, dig in and ask your brain why it thinks it should hold on to that behavior, you can open the door to change, and I can help you do that.


Work with me

It’s my job as a coach to help you explore those thoughts and get highly decisive about the thoughts that are creating both positive or negative action for you. Then, with intention, we’ll craft new thoughts that will create the efficient actions you want in your life, so you can see results. 

Book a complimentary consultation with me to start exploring the possibilities.

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