This is the last blog in the miniseries on positive psychology. It deals with effectiveness. Positive psychology is that branch of psychology that deals with the positive aspects of our lives. It is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior, with a focus on strength instead of weakness. The purpose of this discussion is to familiarize the reader with the fundamental concepts necessary to understand higher-level issues of human nature, such as morality, character, and maturation.
What is Effectiveness?
Let's start with a couple of definitions.
Efficiency is the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy. It can also be described as the ratio of the output to the input of a given system, for instance, return on investment, amount of electricity generated per ton of coal, total miles that a car can travel on one gallon of fuel, and so on.
Effectiveness is the noun that comes from the adjective effective. Being effective means that something, or a process, produces the desired results, like in the following phrase: "It's a simple but effective technique." Effectiveness may be looked at as efficiency applied to human interactions or only as a characterization of how effective relationships are. Examples: Do you get the desired results from the relationship with your employees? How often do your children follow your advice? Are the people in your Bible study class satisfied with the results?
To better understand the concept of effectiveness, let's consider Aesop's (620-564 BC) famous fable, The Farmer and the Golden Eggs, and get its deeper meaning. A farmer had a miracle goose, which used to lay one golden egg each week. The farmer quickly becomes wealthy but also greedy and impatient. He wants to have all golden eggs at once; he wants them now! Why wait so many weeks when he can find them inside his goose? Blinded by ignorance and motivated by greed, the farmer kills the goose only to find no golden eggs inside her.
Did the farmer handle the relationship with his goose effectively? Of course not! Had he kept the goose alive and taken care of her properly, she would have given him one golden egg a week for many years! So is the case with many businesses: owners or managers (farmers) are eager to get more results (golden eggs) from their employees (goose) and drive them exceedingly hard. As a consequence, employees get tired and become de-motivated, and their productivity decreases. This is the exact opposite of what the management wanted to achieve in the first place.
A much more effective strategy to increase productivity is to treat employees with respect, motivate them, and incentivize them. Why will this work better? Because experience shows that motivated and happy employees are much more productive than unhappy and disgruntled people. Most employees want to contribute to their company's success, but only if they feel respected and valued.
Effectiveness can also be defined as a group's ability to obtain desired results while maintaining the highest quality of relationship between its members. Take a marriage, for example: The members are the two parents, their relationship is the marriage, and we can say that the expected results are their children. If the family atmosphere is one of chaos, confusion, and even anger, is that a practical family? Of course not. But if the house atmosphere is one of love, discipline, and stability––and everyone is happy––is that family effective? You bet it is!
The importance of effectiveness becomes more evident when we recognize that most human relationships are temporary and voluntary. Humans do not want to be forced to stay in a relationship longer than they desire. It follows that if we value relationships and want them to last long to the benefit of everyone involved, we must make them effective. Not only that, we must keep them so. The reality is that all relationships should be nurtured, cultivated, and managed with skill and patience to last. We must work hard at them day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Otherwise, they will either dissolve fast at the first storm or fade away slowly.
For this reason, after ten years of marriage, treat your spouse with the same kindness, love, and respect with which you treated her during your honeymoon. Do not assume she knows you love her; do not take your love for her is the same as ten years ago. You have to prove it to her day after day, month after month, year after year. Only this way, your marriage stays vibrant, satisfying, and fulfilling for both of you. Only this way, it will withstand the slow but corrosive effect of the passage of time.
EFFECTIVENESS MEANS DESIRED RESULTS
PLUS A HIGH QUALITY OF THE RELATIONSHIP
A Difficult Balancing Act
Hidden within Aesop's fable, there is a natural law, a principle, a profound truth. Namely, it is that actual effectiveness is a function of two things: what is being produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to make (the goose). Most people see effectiveness only from the golden egg paradigm, i.e., the more eggs, the better. But this is not effectiveness; this is just efficiency! Actually, true effectiveness lies in the balance between what is being produced and how the producing assets are being utilized. So effectiveness is the DR & PA balance, where DR is Desired Results (golden eggs, happiness, or money), and PA is the Production Assets, such as the goose, family, or employees.
The DR & PA balance is a hard thing to achieve. It changes all the time, it tends to get out of balance, and it can be disturbed easily. In other words, it is a tricky balancing act. This is true in any human setting, be it a family, group of students, or business. For example, if your focus in the industry is to get more and more golden eggs from the same human resources, you run the risk of diminishing their capacity to produce. On the other hand, if you focus too much on pampering your employees, you run the risk of them taking it easy and making fewer and fewer golden eggs.
Effectiveness with Self
The concept of effectiveness can also be applied when dealing with self. To find out where you stand, just ask these questions: Are you getting the expected results from yourself in a pleasant or a distasteful manner? Do you have to beat yourself up emotionally every time you need to do something? How do you feel when you have to do undesired chores? Do you complain about them or do them cheerfully? The answers to the above questions will tell you how effective you are with yourself. If you're bored and miserable doing your job, your effectiveness is low. In contrast, if you're energetic, content, and cheerful at work, you have achieved a high self-effectiveness level.
It is not hard to see that self-effectiveness can be achieved if you:
• Pleasantly meet your own goals.
• Balance hard work with leisure and fun.
• Take care of all your God-given assets: body, intellect, emotions, and spirit.
• Have high expectations of yourself but keep them in line with your abilities and talents.
Effectiveness with Others
The same principles of effectiveness apply here, as well. To keep a relationship with other people highly effective, make it pleasant while pursuing the desired results. However, when dealing with relationships, another vital principle comes into play: trust. As we have seen in a previous chapter, one must make daily deposits in the relationship bank account to keep the relationship flourishing.
The goal of these deposits is to make the other person trust you. With you being trustworthy, this creates the most critical ingredient in the relationship: mutual trust. Mutual trust now becomes the production capacity of the relationship. Not only that, but by using a proactive approach, you take charge of the relationship; now it belongs to you. You are the owner-manager of it!
There is no question that the concept of effectiveness provides a much better paradigm about human relations. Let's contrast the old and new paradigms. The old paradigm asserts that all relationships are affected only by the participants' conflicting interests, events, and moods. Therefore, they are almost impossible to control. In contrast, the new paradigm calls for managing all relationships using mutual trust, common interests, and making them pleasant.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS.
USE MUTUAL TRUST AND COMMON INTEREST
TO CREATE AND MANAGE THEM IN A PLEASANT WAY
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