Instead of More Effort, Try a New Strategy


“That guy works hard, but he has looked the same for the past year,” was the remark. It was true. The man at the gym we were watching was no slacker. He had been hitting the weights hard for nearly an hour and the sweat dripping down his face was proof of his commitment. Sadly, however, he had not made any gains in muscle size, weight loss, or definition for a long time. While there are a lot of factors that go in changing one’s physique–from genetics, to diet, exercise form, etc–one thing stood out to me: he has had the same exercise routine since I had first noticed him. As I contemplated this man’s dilemma, I thought of all the effort we put in other areas of life with seemingly little or no return.

change new strategy

It’s part common sense, part human nature to press on towards a break through. If we are not producing at work, we just work harder, longer hours. If our organization is not growing, we work the same plan harder. It seldom seems to occur to us that “more” or “harder” might not be the answer. Sometimes the only thing that works is “different.”

It’s the old definition of insanity that’s so overused these days but that still works: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.” I’ve tested this theory several times. Most recently I did it with my workouts and diet. I have always been active, but in order to get to single digits body fat and put on about 10 lbs of muscle I had to completely change my diet and exercise routine. Same effort + a new plan = different results.

It sounds so obvious and elementary as I write this, but much like the man who is stuck on a no-change routine, we get stuck more often than we care to admit. I know there are other areas of my life that I need this lesson. If I were completely honest with myself I would have a self conversation that says, “you’ve got to do something different. Quit the insanity and change strategy”

Have you ever been in a high-effort, little-result situation? How did you deal with it?

  • Mark Jeffress

    Thanks for posting this Maurilio. I am in a similar situation with a personal relationship that needs a break through, or as you put it ” a new strategy.” Whatever I have been doing has not given me any results. 

  • Guest

    I worked for a company that was losing market share. No one wanted to deal with the real reason, the product had run its course and the world had changed. Instead of trying to make the product better, they decided to do more marketing and hired more sales people. It was the wrong move. Things never got better. I saw the handwriting on the wall and left before it was too late. 

  • I think you hit it on the head – I definitely know doing the same thing, just working harder at it, won’t produce different results, but it’s not always easy to see that when I’m in the midst of a project or leading an organization. I’m actually working on a new strategy for my college ministry, to help us grow more, get my passion back for it to grow more, and see different results. Thanks for the post, Maurilio!

  • I’ve faced the same challenge w/ my fitness. Fortunately my little bro is a personal trainer and taught me the value of changing it up. Never thought about the application outside of the gym before.

    • My workout partner changes it up every three weeks so we are always doing something new. I’ve seen more gains during this season than ever before.

  • Tam

    Have you ever been in a high-effort, little-result situation?

    Yes. Presently.

    How did you deal with it?

    Well, looks now I will be addressing it with a different plan and likely some positive change will result.

    Thanks for this!

  • Great reminder! I am currently applying this in my life and at times I somewhat slide back to my old routine. Thanks for sharing this. God bless!

  • Great post. Love the simplicity in your writing. 

  • Pingback: What if working harder doesn’t work? |

  • Stumbled upon your article today. Great thoughts you have in here. Built upon your thoughts on this article with some equations for your Post:
    Same Effort + Same Plan = Same Results
    More Effort + Same Plan = Same Result + More Frustration
    Same Effort + Different Plan = Different Results

  • Pingback: Hours worked does not equal success | Stolen Genius()

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