Doing Less Better

Getting better –  Few magic wands or silver bullets. A couple of steps forward, one back at best. It’s challenging to select when to move forward and when to wait. Does inching forward on many fronts get you better faster than moving a foot on fewer fronts? Does doing less better make sense? I play in a big band learning many charts that stretch my reading skills and dexterity.  I also play in a student combo stretching my music theory and improvisation skills. I can squeak out 1 to 3 hours practice time a week. Not enough, I think, to really improve at anything. I feel so stretched I’ve stopped taking lessons. So I’m getting better too slowly for my satisfaction. On the other hand when Pablo Casals, maybe the best cellist ever, interviewed at 92 years old, he said he couldn’t talk more because he had to go practice. “Practice?” the interviewer said, “but you’re the best ever.” Casals quipped, “I’ve almost gotten it right.”  I decided to stop playing in the big band and focus on the combo.  I’d rather learn more music theory and improvise better. I’ll also resume the lessons. I only have so much gas in my tank. The stress of feeling overwhelmed – too many fronts – consumes fuel. Maybe doing less better with less stress burns less fuel.

Doing less better also has relevance for a team. At work we have many projects inching forward but we’re less than satisfied with the progress on any one of them. The team needs and wants to improve on many fronts, but wants to resolve most of them yesterday. Stress results. It’s more satisfying for the team to reach and celebrate milestones than sense that the foundation is rising by inches. Once again would the team’s health improve more if we do less better? We’ll see.


  • Sue says:

    I’m glad you’re feeling better, Danny. And so many gratitudes to you for mapping your journey so eloquently — simply aging as I am with only a few medical glitches, I resonate with every thing you said last time and today…..

  • Luc R Pelletier says:

    Well said, as always Danny. Doing less? Requires getting used to when our pace has been at warp speed. Less requires pause. And pause requires reflection. As I get older, there is less reserve. More energy to preserve. What will I use my energy towards today? And for what purpose? Or should I save some for tomorrow. Yikes. More to think about!

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