Being Effective: The Mindfulness Skill Every Perfectionist Should Know

When we are doing something, by trying to be right or prove a point we may feel satisfied at the moment, but in the long run, getting what we want in life is more satisfying. This is what being effective is all about. It's doing what works instead of what is right.


In many cases, we may never truly know what is right. Right and wrong are subjective. But we all kind of have an idea of what works. Novelists, and I always like using them as an example, are prone to self-criticism. Writing in itself is a very subjective artform, and then add in pages and pages of material, present tense, past tense, different genres, and writing styles. There is no clear right or wrong, so chasing perfection will only end in misery. The effective thing here would be to write and write a lot and maybe get editors and proofreaders. Reading also helps. But you won't get an article or book done by doing anything other than writing the actual material.

Being effective also comes into play in person-to-person conflicts and interpersonal relationships. Yelling at someone who upset you, for instance, may always feel like a weight lifted off your shoulders. But if you happen to upset them, then the anger can circle back to you. Even if it felt right and even fair in your eyes to yell at them. Even if they absolutely deserved it, if it's in a public space, for instance, you could be viewed as an aggressive person by people who haven't gotten to know you yet.

If this person works for a company they could be told not to take your business. If it's a coworker the next day might be very awkward. Instead, focus on the goal instead. Did the person take your place in line? Maybe waiting behind them is better than causing a scene. You'll still get served and the customer service may have noticed you were there. Did someone serve you the wrong item? Calmly expressing your concerns will get the right item faster and safely to you. Did the coworker disrespect you? Avoiding the person, or using the grey rock method may be the best response especially if they thrive off reactions. The point is to focus on your objectives and bigger picture goals. Once you've achieved them, then it's a win.


How to be Effective


Know your goals or objectives in every circumstance and aim for the target: Not knowing what we want makes effectiveness hard and things become almost pointless. Out of aimlessness, we operate all over the place. This is especially true when we are in emotion mind. We can mistake being afraid of something with not wanting something, being angry at someone with not wanting to be close to the person, being ashamed of something with not wanting to be around other people.


Know and react to the actual situation: To be effective, you need to react to the situation that you know is occurring only. Not to what you think the situation SHOULD be. This reminds me of the story about a woman who refused to live anywhere but in an apartment. She was so outraged that this particular housing style didn't welcome people on welfare in her area and was so adamant that she SHOULD get an apartment that she forgot her main goal was to get housing. In the long run, she ended up finding a place nicer than any apartment on the ground floor. But it was after being homeless for a month and almost losing her financial support because she was so focused on calling apartment buildings and screaming that she would sue them for discrimination.

Try to calm down and weigh your options: Much of the time we know what is and what's not effective when we are calm enough to think about it. Sometimes being effective means asking for help or instructions, improving in a skill. Be open to experimenting while staying aware of the consequences of what you decide to do. But be willing to learn from your mistakes so you know you'll be able to embrace any future letdowns.


A man was underpaid by 100 on his bonus check. Because it was already a bonus sum and not a requirement for the company to give to him he felt guilty about asking for it. His objective however was to get the rest of the money he deserved. Still, he didn't say anything and it ate him up for two weeks while he told his coworkers. It got back to the boss who was mortified that he had told so many people without going directly to the source. He finally got the 100, but it would have happened a lot smoother if only he was being effective.

Know what will and what won't work to achieve goals: Cut off any excess effort you might use in a scenario and stick to the essentials.


Play by the rules when necessary: It may suck biting our tongue when someone like a desk boy or restaurant owner is rude to us. I've even been hung up on when I tried to ask if my taxi driver was lost. But in these circumstances when your goal depends on someone else, it's best to let things go. Focusing on your breathing and your goal is key.


Take people where they are rather than where they "SHOULD be," and go from there: Different people are like different cultures. Focusing on what is "RIGHT" instead of what works is like trying to impose our own culture on another country when visiting.


Sacrifice a principle to achieve a goal when necessary: A principle that you may have is that all people deserve respect, even you. You may get very upset then, naturally when a person in a position of power and authority makes you feel threatened and disrespected. It can be especially hard when you are constantly fighting mistreatment by the same types of people. But the goal is to always remain safe. Therefore doing everything you can to keep safe in a scenario like this, such as keeping calm and only speaking when you are questioned is what is effective.



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