16. Sep, 2021


Quality, not Quantity

I am going to use a fitness / health statistics to relate quality in our lives compared to quantity and how we can see quality over quantity in almost any subject in our lives.
In breathing exercises the Buteyko method is used to control the way in which you breath. I got onto this system when I was measuring my health statistics through my smart watch. You can pull out reports on the statistics that your device measures. One interesting measure is the Pulse Ox (oximetry), also known as the Oxygen Saturation in your blood. It is a general measure that states if you are above 95% oxygen saturation, you can consider yourself relatively healthy, though anything less than 90% is an area that needs more health focus.

The way pulse ox works is that you intact oxygen through your mouth or nose and then your pulse ox indicates that amount of oxygen traveling through your body with your red blood cells. Your pulse ox is mainly impacted by how much oxygen you breathe in, there are other factors, but you can study that yourself if you are interested. Getting back onto the Buteyko method, this is about controlling your breathing, not forcing lots of oxygen in but focus on the quality and allowing the body time to focus on the right oxygen fit. Oxygen hitches a ride and gets dropped off throughout the body.

There are other ways to improve your pulse ox, but for my example this is the focus area. If you control your breathing, steady your heart, your body works more efficiently. Conversely, if you get your heart rate up constantly and force your breathing to be increased, it has a detrimental effect on your body. Life and fitness works in roller coasters, HIIT (high intensity interval training) is shocking the system. Relaxation is the opposite to get a reaction out of the body, essentially shocking the system by doing something different.

Consistently controlling your breathing, which becomes a natural thing overtime helps to reduce the strain on your heart (considering your heart doesn’t get a break and has to continue running your entire life, tell me what engine can run 24/7 for around 70 – 100 years straight?) anything you can do to support reducing the impact will benefit your lifespan. The same goes for helping to improve your pulse ox, if you control your breathing and allow the body to be healthy, therefore improving the efficiency overall of your body to be able to do the functions it needs to do, the better you can improve all your health stats.

How does this relate to quality in other parts of your life?

The same as our heart being an engine, when it comes to the things in our lives, if we have so much quantity, our mind has to process all of this, all of the time, though if we can reduce the amount coming to us all at the same time, the more we can actually process. If you focus on quantity over quality consider how quickly you get tired when you try new things, when you start a new job and commence the learning journey, the first couple of months you come home, excited, yet fried. Because you are absorbing so much information all at once that you tire easily due to the sheer amount coming inwards. Now sometimes, quantity takes precedence because that is either a culture of the business or you have to do some hard yards, put some other things in your life on hold and focus on a sole task. Then the quantity might fit in well.

What is hard, is if you are managing a couple of businesses, family and all of your activities in your life that you don’t want to lose a grasp on. When one of your businesses struggles, a global pandemic or something causes issues in a focused area. You essentially have to throw yourself at the problem, the quantity takes over the quality and you have to put other things on hold. Though look at most of the greatest business men & women in the world. Somehow they can juggle it all, what is the secret to success?

It is the ability to distinguish being busy, and spending time effectively, again quality over quantity. Tony Robbins explained this quite well in a summit I went to and watched him explain his success over the multiple businesses he runs. To manage multiple businesses at once, you need to focus on quality, not quantity otherwise nothing will get done. In his case delegation of authority was a hard thing to accomplish, namely giving someone control of your ’baby’ and making decisions that will either make or break the business. The reason it was hard was in his past someone stole a lot of money from him being in that position. But the quality part was understanding the culture or character of someone, and giving them ownership to make decisions on behalf of the business. For Tony, the only thing he needed was the summary or key elements, the need for trends to understand growth or decline and what is critical for him to know. You don’t really need to know if an employee was away or how a mistake might have been made. As an example quality is understanding the strategy or action taken to correct the problem and provide proof of what was done and how it improved the situation.

If you had three different businesses, being in them all would break you, or you would break your family. But having three businesses report into you the key facts and data you need to make an executive decision is critical. You can look at the detail if you have the time or interest, but overall a summary will help you see the broad view of that said business. It is hard to make ‘business decisions’ if you are in the business, being away from the business lets you make decisions with less emotional investment, but is generally the most logical way to maintain a thriving business, along with the right people running them. And most importantly owning them (or owning the process they are undertaking by delegation of authority, to a point, decentralised command in military practices).

If you are smashed by the detail, you will get stuck and find it hard to wade your way out of the problems. Seeing the summary and understanding the direction you are headed is key to making effective decisions. Quality over quantity is key, because quality data that is relevant to make key decisions is more important than a huge spreadsheet that you have to interpret. A system from Microsoft called Power BI is a tool that interprets spreadsheets and turns them into visuals that make lines on a spreadsheet a picture. It can show a trend that the business is heading in with historical data.

A large part of quality comes to interpretation and what matters. A fancy visual is great, but what purpose does it provide? I have been in many corporate meetings, and the visuals look great, but at the end of the meeting, there is no action or outcome. What is key is using data (in this case) to create a point where a decision needs to be made. If you can see a key product in your business is not selling well, look at the trends, why? Is it the sales team isn’t on the road anymore selling the product, what factor has impacted this. On the other side, don’t use the data to cease the sale of the product, what this does is highlights key areas to make decisions on (that decision might be to get more detail on why it isn’t selling, or is it an environmental factor? – such as a pandemic, people cannot leave their houses during a lockdown and therefore your product is sitting on a shelf unable to be purchased. Do you move the product to an online retailer and change the marketing strategy from billboards to side bars on the internet?).

Data is the information (quantity) that needs to be translated into a picture (quality) for an executive decision to be made. Without one, you do not have the other, without quantity you do not have quality, they are co-dependant. But it comes down to how much and the balance between the two that you need to work on.
Much like in fitness, you can work out all day, but then your body will be tired, then you affect your ability to process mentally, too much physical exercise tires your body requiring repair to the physical body, diverting ‘power’ within your body to repair sections. Reducing your mental capability as you re-route power to essential functions. The same for multiple activities in your life, you need to find the balance to maintain quality over quantity.

If you find at work you are really busy, and always in meetings. Maybe you need to review your time and consider which meetings or tasks are actually adding benefit. Sometimes a scale can help with this, if you take the ten tasks or meetings you have due. Consider them (subjectively) prioritize them. Essentially a business needs to make a profit to exist which I would say is generally the top business priority, so consider your tasks in what from 1-10 will help to improve profits? Once you have prioritized these items, then look at what impact you have on those items.

If the number 1 priority is a meeting that you add no value, remove it from the list, excuse yourself from the call to focus on the next priorities on the list. If your boss doesn’t excuse you, you can consider explaining your impact and where you can focus to add actual value rather than being a passenger on a call. This may still be denied, but the purpose of this exercise is to get you thinking about the weight of a task, the time assigned and the relevance of assigning yourself to it.

If you can excuse yourself from certain tasks that will be forgotten tomorrow, the same for some meetings you are buying back your time. Look at your calendar, you might have spaces that you haven’t assigned tasks to, it is important to spread out your workload over a period of time so that you don’t spend a large allocation of time on a task one day and not revisit it another day. It is important to work on something overtime as you will shape the story but at the same time you will use different perspectives at different times and days of the week. This could be when you are fresh vs when you are tired or happy vs down moments. Again finding ways to use quality over quantity.

I have in the past (and continue to) assign a large amount of time on something that took me many hours, but on other occasions used an experience that helped me overcome a challenge very quickly “why didn’t I do this last time?.”

Look at your calendar, look at things in your life. Do they add value to you, are you adding value to them? Remember also to give time to your family, this is time that you don’t need to allocate tasks within, this is time to give yourself to your family free of expectations. But in your other life tasks, break things down and look at whether you add value, if not, why do it?

I touched on it but want to dive deeper, ownership or accountability is key in yours and other people’s lives. If you override peoples decisions or have to make them all, you will create people who will just give you what you want and eventually you will have people around you that are ‘yes’ men.