top of page

What if being lazy was a good thing?

Anyone who has read my blogs in the past knows of my practice of meditation and my desire to apply mindfulness, more intentionally, into my life and my business. I have seen great benefits both personally and professionally. The benefits, I believe, become felt by my family, those around me and my clients.

When I find something, while using some of the tools discovered along the way, I am oftentimes compelled to share. So, with that in mind, let's talk about being lazy, shall we?

The taboo of laziness

Traditionally when we think of the word lazy it is certainly thought of as a negative trait for people to have. I always envision the lazy teenager, whether this is myself, in my earlier years, or a more generic lazy teenager on almost every family-based sitcom in history. I think we can all recognize this character.

Teenage Kelly in the top row, far left. Do you still believe in the stereotype of the lazy teenager?

For others, it might be something more current than that. Perhaps a lazy co-worker? That person, who every time you see them they seem to be staring into space or into their computer screen seemingly doing nothing. While you are running around trying to do something, anything, to stay ahead of the demands you are facing. Sound familiar?

Mythbusting our conceptions of laziness - A Toyota case study

There are numerous studies that suggest that those people traditionally considered lazy score higher on IQ tests, live happier and more fulfilling lives and, believe it or not, end up being overall (long term) more productive and achieve better work-related results than those considered more ambitious. A lot of this has to do with both stress and something I like to refer to as being "thoughtfully precise".

A good example of an industry where being "thoughtfully precise" comes in handy is engineering.

Any product built these days is likely to have a useful life that is attached to it. Take a car for example. After poking around with some statistics online it seems the average life expectancy of a vehicle today is approximately 12 years or 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometres). That same research resulted in finding out that consistently one brand (outside of what I might call a luxury brand) rises to the top, year after year, for reliability is Toyota. In fact, start typing in Toyota into a google search and the next word that automatically appears is reliability.

Many stories have been written about Toyota's success. Every story ends up talking about their unwavering commitment to upfront design, research and development and engineering. All of these efforts, in a company or an individual, from an outsiders perspective looking in, might be misinterpreted as laziness, because they are not actually building the vehicle on the production line, in the case of Toyota, or writing a report, in the case of an employee.

For Toyota, they have made the conscious choice to place an emphasis on upfront planning and contemplation to ensure long term functionality. This has lead to legendary customer satisfaction and brand recognition for this performance. Other terms that come to mind for me when thinking of Toyota are time smart or effort smart.

Reframing our understanding of laziness, and a story of that time I had a hockey injury

For a work environment perhaps we could consider looking at things a bit differently when seeing what we may perceive as laziness. Get curious as to what is going on when these instances arise.

Do not start with the judgement that someone is being lazy. It may just be that rather than just completing a report, for example, as quickly as possible, the person is being intentional about how it will be received, where there are potential pitfalls to avoid or thinking of the longer-term implications of recommendations within, rather than simply "putting out a fire".

It could be that this time to ponder and apply precision could be the better long term use of time and effort.

One brief personal example of where I would have benefitted from the application of being "thoughtfully precise" was when I injured my knee playing hockey. When it happened I knew something was quite wrong. I actually believe I heard a pop. And the pain was excruciating instantaneously. I immediately thought torn MCL.

I was able to go see my doctor right away. Great. They sent me for an injection of dye into the knee for a scope (sorry if I am not getting this technically correct). Results - not conclusive. But, in the interest of? I am scheduled to see a surgeon. Ok, who am I to question this? The surgeon has a brief session with me and determines, using what I thought was the inconclusive results, that he will do the surgery and it is my MCL (most common hockey-related knee injury I guess?).

I have the surgery with him. I go home afterwards and am told all the things I should do. Rest. And then go see a physiotherapist for rehabbing the knee. I have a friend who is a physio so great.

I go see my friend. My knee is not feeling awesome still. Actually no real improvement but I chalk it up to rehab being required. We do an initial assessment with my physio friend. And, quite quickly, he determines that I am displaying classic tearing of the ACL symptoms and quite bad ones. He feels this a complete tear and the physio work the surgeon sent me off to do would have made it potentially worse and been very painful.

I come to find out after a follow-up with the surgeon's office that I was his last patient. Once inside my knee, he saw the damage and the surgery was more difficult than he felt he could do because he has back issues. "Sorry for the confusion but we would be happy to send you for an MRI to determine the next steps."

What I would have given for someone to pause and take some time to get the diagnosis right before charging ahead like what happened.

Maybe some of it is on me a bit to have put blind faith into the system? Admittedly, at the time, I was fairly happy with the pace of how things happened. In hindsight, a lazy surgeon might have been the ticket? Or is that what I got?

Be well friends.



bottom of page