This is Easy!

As a guitarist, I've been guilty of slopping through a song. I've play the minimum needed to get the song across to avoid spending a lot of time learning all the parts simply because it wasn't a song that really moved me. It was an "easy" song, let's move on to something more difficult and lively! Recently, I came across a video of a guitar teacher that hit on that exact mentality. In fact, the song he talks about in the video, was even one of the songs I had brushed off. It wasn't due to the lack of knowing the parts were there - I heard them all, but I just didn't want to spend the extra time involved.

As a programmer, I've been known to spend extra time on solving a problem that I thought may come up again. I would take the time to make the code as portable as I could, creating a unit that could be plugged in into other places. By default, programmers are lazy. I have been so "lazy" in the past, that I had spent several extra hours making code be portable so that I wouldn't have to spend that time again later in the future. Once, I had spent an entire day programming a fix that I could have done in 15 minutes for the project I was working on. This most certainly wasn't the easy way, but it allowed me to be lazy in the future. That day (about 30 15 minute segments) resulted in something I had used at least 200 times during the following year. (For those keeping score, that saved about 35 hrs, or nearly a week of work)

Thinking of these two situations then made me start to analyze other things to see what was be treated as "easy" or something I desired as to be "lazy" about.

Many martial artists that I know strive for perfection. It's not something that is attainable, but we always work toward it. Sometimes we come across a pattern or technique that is "easy." We just do it, not a problem, next one please! However, we aren't taking the time to learn it well, understand what lessons are behind it. Other times, we may find something that we know will be used over and over again, so we study it hard to make our own way of having it work for later use so we can be "lazy" about it later.

A couple months back, it was made aware to me that there was nothing "lazy" about it. All that extra work that was put into that specific thing (programming, music, martial arts, whatever) was working toward being "efficient." Efficiency is something we like - laziness is not. This was brought up in the context of martial arts. In the past, people had mentioned a few techniques of mine looking to be lazy. I had mentioned that to a master I was on the mat with after having successfully done one of those techniques. He made it a point to tell me that the technique was "efficient, not lazy" because the work had been put in to make it effective with less energy and thought to achieve the result.

Something I like to tell students is to always practice the basics. We do basic techniques in every class, and you can tell which students are "checked-out" and which ones are trying to practice a specific piece of the technique. Sometimes we focus on a small part of a technique like the final positioning, foot placement, transitions from one move to another, power generation, etc. The more we talk about and focus on those parts, the better chance we have of making a student have the lesson stick with them and therefore become more efficient in that area. As we add more of those kinds of things to the student, they become more efficient in many more areas until they have become more efficient as a whole.

How often do you find yourself saying that something is easy? Is that because you have perfected that something, or do you just not care enough to become more efficient?