Some activities pay huge dividends and insane gains, but don't feel satisfying. The flipside is that some activities feel incredibly satisfying, but pay no gains at all.
Take cleaning the house. If you clean the hell out of your house, you're going to likely feel great. You work up a little sweat, use your muscles, and you can get into the zone for four or five hours. Afterwards, you feel you really accomplished something.
But… even in the very most expensive countries, a solid cleaning can be purchased for $50. If you've got any skills and hustle at all, you could make more than that in four or five hours, and probably build up some long-term asset value or connections in the process.
Yet, after a good thorough clean, you'll typically feel great.
Whereas "sitting there frustrated and confused trying to figure something out" is typically not enjoyable at all. Yet, frequently six hours of sitting there frustrating and going over the same problem over and over again will lead to major breakthroughs.
Last week, Stepan and I were sitting around trying to figure out a better way to invoice and write service contracts. It took hours to get a simple two page document made. Most of the time was frustrating… we drew up some criteria on the whiteboard, and just sat there frustrated that we weren't getting it quite right.
Eventually, we settled a minimalist frontpage of an invoice, with this towards the bottom:
Please see our included “Flawless Service Promise” for terms – our terms are extremely client-‐ friendly, and we always value and work hard to win and deserve your business. Thank you.
Replacing a contract, we have terms that are tough on us, a complete and incredibly liberal guarantee, and emphasizing how hard we're going to work -- and emphasizing how we're going to keep working to earn long-term business from our client, make them look like a hero to anyone they refer to us, etc.
The end result between getting this invoice/contract best-in-class and not is a few percentage points of more sales, sales coming together faster, and more referrals -- quite a big deal. But in the end, we had a simple two-page document that took a few hours to put together. The end result is worth thousands of dollars over a lower level baseline, but it doesn't feel as satisfying as a few hours of cleaning.
Our bodies and minds grew up in a different environment, and oftentimes the highly profitable activities don't feel as good as just being busy. Sitting there confused followed by doing a highly leveraged small bit of work to a really high standard pays much larger dividends than mopping the floor, but the brain doesn't seem to recognize this naturally very well.