What a Waste of Time

joe —  Sat 9-Oct-10 — 4 Comments
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I have some friends that are incredibly efficient. I constantly marvel as they take on a task, use no time in breaking through the barriers, and then slay the beast without any wasted effort. I imagine that if I were a FedEx delivery man, an EMT, or a just-in-time supplier that efficiency would be a major skill I would need to master.

There is one area of life where efficiency is the enemy.

Elaine is a dear friend of mine and was formerly married to Jonathan. Elaine has told me on several occasions the story she had with Jonathan one Saturday morning.

Jonathan: “I’m going to make a run to the grocery store.”
Elaine: “Hey, I’ll come with you. I need some things too.”
Jonathan: “Well if you are going why don’t you just pick up what I need?”
Elaine: “I don’t need my stuff that bad, I just wanted to go with you.”
Jonathan: “There’s no point in us both going. That’s not efficient.”

Did you pick up on the phrase “formerly married”? The fact that Elaine has told me that same story on several occasions indicates that it was clearly a memorable moment – for the wrong reasons. When I told this story to my wife she had that look on her face that seemed to say “did Jonathan really say that out loud?”

The best relationships rarely have efficiency as one of the key attributes for success.

efficient idea.pngIf you want proof, do the Google test. Type the words efficiency and relationship into Google and see what comes up. I have only gone through the first 8 pages but there was not a single entry talking about efficient relationships.

Lasting relationships are often about irrational use of time. They are about getting lost in each other. They are about basking in each other’s silence. They are about proving that spending time together doing nothing is more important than anything else in the world at that moment. Crazy love is just that, being crazy. Why would I ever want to go with her to Bobbins ‘R’ Us when I really need to paint the house before it gets too cold? That’s just crazy inefficient.

Yet when I look closely at the relationships I admire, the ones where the two are crazy in love, I see inefficiency standing up proudly wearing a big ole’ sandwich board that says “Look at me!” It’s almost a badge of honor. It’s that crazy inefficiency that speaks volumes over any words that can be said

Now I concede that you can’t be totally irrational and never give in to the need to accomplish all of life’s tasks. We all have to do that. It’s just that those of us that have been blessed with an amazing relationship know that you have to put inefficient much higher in the priority list than is natural or comfortable.

Elaine’s simple story has been a blessing to my wife and me. Many times when we look at our long list of things to do for the day she’ll look at me and say “Want to come with?” She now knows that my simple reply of “that wouldn’t be efficient” means “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Today’s Question
What’s the last thing you did with a friend or spouse that questioned your inner-efficiency expert?

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  • http://ziemecki.net Dan Ziemecki

    Great post, Joe. And I can totally hear myself say that.

    • http://www.TheStrandedStarfish.com joe

      Thanks Dan. That same inner-efficiency is what makes you so incredibly good at your job.

  • Carol

    Yeah, relationships are a bit like vacations. If you are being efficient with your vacation, there is no need to leave home, since you have already arrived at your final destination.

    Good job Joe!

  • http://www.TheStrandedStarfish.com joe

    :) Great point about vacations as well.

    Reminds me of a comedian that told the story about how he went up to the ticket gate at an airline and said he wanted a round trip ticket. When they asked “where to” he responded “right here”.