I recently had a bunch of blood tests done and I noticed that if the nurse inserted the needle just one millimeter off from the vein, he or she wouldn’t be able to draw blood no matter how much they poked around. But if the nurse was spot on, blood would be drawn with ease 100% of the time. The first time I got poked it was just to the left of the vein, and no blood was drawn. Then they’d try again and do it perfectly. So the next nurse that saw me saw two tiny holes in my arm and tried the one that didn’t work first. This pattern of getting poked twice instead of once continued until I discovered that if I simply told them, “this hole works, that hole draws nothing,” they would get it right 100% of the time.
Some of us are so used to measuring productivity by how much work we do, that it’s easy to get confused when hard work doesn’t lead to results. But, sometimes working hard is like trying to draw blood from a spot just millimeters off from the vein. It looks so much like it should work that it can fool three seasoned professionals, but in the end you get next to nothing even though they’re performing the exact same actions that lead to success when they find an angle that’s spot on.
Once you start differentiating between the circumstances (where, when, with whom, and what mood you’re in) that allow an action to be successful, and the circumstances that prevent success, you can more intelligently apply your efforts to achieve your desires. This is really easy when it comes to drawing blood, because it’s so obvious when you’re in the flow and when you’re barely getting a trickle. But, when it comes to achieving your goals, you don’t always know which actions are paying off and which actions look the exact same but yield nothing. Because sometimes it’s not the action that matters, but what that action taps into.
So what do you do when nothing seems to work and you still need to get results? How do you tap back into success and get the ball rolling? I’ll share my answer in the comments and I invite you to do the same!