High Performance the Lazy Way

Matt McCormick


This is my 5th Toastmasters speech. Re-watching it now, I was quite disappointed with it. I wasn’t prepared enough and it did not come off as smooth as it could have been. I also need to work on my vocal variety more. Luckily, that is the purpose of my next speech. Please evaluate this speech at Soapbox Guru.

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Thank you Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests.

Now I hate to start off by bragging about myself but I am lazy. And people come up to me and they say Matt “How can you be so lazy?” and they tell me all sorts of excuses. They say “I want to be lazy but I don’t have the time.” Or “I want to be lazy but, you know, being lazy sounds like a lot of hard work.” And, of course, “I want to be lazy but I just don’t know where to get started.”

Now, I’ve found that there are a number of benefits to being lazy. And I’m going to cover three of them today to help you become lazier in your own lives. First one is that being lazy can help you save money.

Now, I’ve been wanting to buy a new computer for about a year or so because the computer that I have, it’s a bit loud and it overheats and shuts down sometimes so I think “Ah, I should go out and I should buy a new computer for me.” But then I start thinking about all the effort and time that it requires to go out and buy a new computer. I gotta go to all these different stores and do research and pick out the one that suits me best. So I keep putting it off. Buying a new computer - it just takes too much time and energy for a lazy person like me. So I’ve realised that being lazy can help you save money.

Are you one of those people that buys 10 pairs of shoes or shirts and never wear them again? You can put laziness to help you. So the next time you want to buy something you might see at the store, instead of buying it there, go home and think about it for a week. A week later, you’ll think “Maybe I want to buy that shirt” but then you start thinking in your head “Well I gotta get in the car, I gotta go to the store, I gotta pick it out again and find where it is. Ah, it’s just too much work. I’ll be lazy. I’ll save money.”

So that’s the first benefit. Be lazy, save money.

The second thing I’ve found is that being lazy can help you be more efficient. So my philosophy is “Why do something twice when you can only do it once?” In software development, a good practice is called DRY - D R Y - Don’t Repeat Yourself. And I try to incorporate this into my work because I don’t like repeating myself. For example, a few months ago, I was working on a website that needed user registration. And I forgot to put a part where users can, if they forget their password, they can get it sent to them by email again. One day, the guy comes up to me and says “Oh Matt, this guy forgot his password. Can you reset it for him?” I think “Ah, this is petty work. I don’t want to do this work.” So instead of resetting this individual password, I just write code that allows user to reset their own password. And I don’t need to be bothered by this petty work anymore. So be lazy, be more efficient in your own life.

The third great part about being lazy is it can help you kick bad habits. There’s a famous psychologist named Milton Erickson who was known for solving patients problems using very creative techniques. One day a patient came to him and said “Doctor, I’m an alcoholic. I’ve tried everything to stop but I still keep drinking. It’s ruining my life and my family’s life. What can I do?”

And Dr. Erickson thought about it for a minute and said “Alright, drink as much as you want.”

And the guy’s thinking “What? You’re telling me to just keep drinking?”

And he says “Yes. Drink as much as you want but it has to be at this one pub three miles from your house. And you have to walk there if you want to drink.”

So the guy thinks “This is peculiar but I’ll give it a try.”

The doctor says “OK, try it out for one month and come back and see me.”

One month later, the patient comes back and says “Doctor, I don’t know what you did but I’m cured of alcoholism. I haven’t had a drink in three weeks.”

And the doctor asks him to explain and he says “Well, you know, I walked to the tavern the first couple nights and then the third night it was raining so I thought, ‘Ah I’m not gonna go out in the rain to drink’. Then the fourth night I start walking there and about half an hour into my walk I start thinking ‘You know, it’s gonna be another half an hour to get there. I’m a little bit tired. I don’t know really want to go the next mile and a half to get a drink’ so I just turned around and went home and spent time with my family. And the next night ‘Ah it didn’t really interest me anymore’ so I just stopped going to the pub. So this is another benefit of being lazy. Being lazy can help you kick bad habits.

See, I think I’m lazy but laziness is a general trait among people. People try to do things the easiest way and if you make things that you don’t want to do harder you will usually take the easy way out and you will take the lazy way out which if you structure life can actually improve things. For example, if you don’t like going to the doctor, if you absolutely hate it, then eat healthy and take good care of yourself. Then you won’t have to waste your time going to the doctor. Same thing if you don’t like cleaning, then don’t make a mess and it solves itself.

So be lazy in your own life. It can help you save money, make you more efficient in your job and can help you kick bad habits. Mr. Toastmaster.