Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principles, Part 5

It’s not easy to be counterintuitive and go against the old paradigms. Yet history teaches us that most breakthrough successes have come from running counter to the prevailing paradigms.

Each month since the beginning of the year I introduced you to a pair life-changing counterintuitive principles.

Have you begun using these principles to effect significant change in your life?  Several of you have written me telling me stories of how applying principles to your career like Go Slow to Go Faster or Let Go to Gain Control have resulted in promotions, revived relationships, and a better work/life balance being achieved.  Please comment or email me to share your story (!

Here are the eight principles we’ve previously covered:

In the first part of this series we defined how breakthroughs often happen when we go in the opposite direction from what seems to be true.  We examined these counterintuitive principles that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with if you haven’t already:

  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #1: You Must Go Slow In Order To Go Fast. Your life literally depends on this principle, yet we’re so often in a hurry that we skip over the go slow part, only to have to do things over again. 
  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #2: Limit Hiring People Just Like You. If you’re tasked with hiring people, then you’ve been successful in what you do.  Yet when we hire people who are just like us, trouble happens.  Find out why!

In the second installment we took a deep dive into two more life-changing principles:

  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #3: If it Ain’t Broke, Break It On Purpose. Conventional wisdom tells us to focus on the things that are broken and leave things alone when they’re working well.  Yet intentionally breaking something to reinvent it enables vast improvements.
  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #4: Let Go of Control to Gain Control. Learn why you are usually the small end of the funnel and that restricts radical growth.  You gain much, much more when you give control to the folks doing the actual work. 

In Part 3 we took a deep dive into counterintuitive life-changing principles five and six:

  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #5: The Golden Rule is Not Golden. Because everyone is different and has his or her unique set of preferences, don’t do to them what you want them to do to you – instead, figure out what they prefer you do to them and then do it. 
  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #6: Failing Fast is Better Than Failing Slowly. We all have failed, we all are failing in something right now, and we all will fail in something else.  The faster we can recognize that something isn’t working, the quicker we can stop doing it and do something different.

In Part 4 we took a deep dive into counterintuitive life-changing principles seven and eight:

  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #7: The Golden Rule is Not Golden. Because everyone is different and has his or her unique set of preferences, don’t do to them what you want them to do to you – instead, figure out what they prefer you do to them and then do it. 
  • Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #8: Failing Fast is Better Than Failing Slowly. We all have failed, we all are failing in something right now, and we all will fail in something else.  The faster we can recognize that something isn’t working, the quicker we can stop doing it and do something different.

And now, let’s explore the next group of counterintuitive life-changing principles!


Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #9: The Busier You Are, the More You Must Be Intentional About Quiet Time

America has a busyness epidemic, according to Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung.  Consider these seven statistics cited in DeYoung’s book:

  • Commuters have more daily stress than fighter pilots and riot police.
  • In America, we work longer workdays than the rest of the world (by 8.8 hours each week).
  • An average US workweek often exceeds 60 hours.
  • We take too little vacation time: in the US, 2 weeks; in Norway, 17 weeks; in Germany, 9 weeks.
  • We attempt to multitask (which is a fallacy).  Instead we switchtask at high speeds so the constant spinning up and spinning down between tasks stresses our brains.
  • We stress out our kids (and they know it). By a 3:1 margin our children prefer less stress for parents over more time with parents.
  • We get 2.5 hours less sleep per night than we did 100 years ago – more than 1/3 of working adults get less than 6 hours sleep/night.

A story that appeared in Harvard Business Review awhile back, The Busier You Are the More You Need Quiet Time, discusses the health and wellness problems continual busyness causes.  Rather than taking the time out to recharge, many busy people attempt to get more minutes out of each hour by doubling down on being busy.

What’s the answer? Intentionally planning quiet time to allow yourself to recover and refocus, while your body and your mind heal themselves.  Some proactive ways that intentional quiet time might be taken include:

  • Declaring a media fast – not turning on TV, listening to radio, viewing videos, or checking social media, texts, and email. Since we tend to react to the media we see, cutting ourselves off from it frees us up to contemplate the positive, unstressful aspects of life.
  • Taking a 5-minute mental break – intentionally pausing at times during the day and setting aside distractions and issues. Some people swear by a 5-minute power nap.  Others prefer a 5-minute meditations session.  Others simple go outside into nature and just listen to the restful sounds.
  • Scheduling quiet times – whether a leisurely hour-long stroll through a park or putting on some headphones and listening to restful, soothing music, the key is to schedule yourself for a bloc of time where you will be free from the busyness around you.
  • Going on a silence retreat – proponents of silence retreats plan one to three days away from any man- made noise, going to out-of-the-way places where they will not be stressed by busyness.

Regardless of the specific quiet time you select, schedule it and do it…even if it means disappearing for a while and shutting down your phone and email.  The time away will allow you to become sharper, re-energized, and more focused when you return to your busy schedule.

Bottom line: Be intentional about your quiet time and vigorously protect these scheduled quiet periods.  You’ll not only reduce your stress levels, but you’ll sharpen your focus when you recharge through quiet.

Counterintuitive Life-Changing Principle #10: Let Go in Order to Grow

People unknowingly stymie their personal and professional growth by not letting go of some things that “own them.” Melissa is a high-energy, successful sales professional who scrambles to keep up with all of her accounts.  She has a lot of accounts.  In fact, she has way too many accounts, and all of them demand (and deserve) responsive service. After looking at Melissa’s accounts and ranking them A-B-C in relative value to her and her employer, she realizes that the As (about 10%) of her accounts and Bs (another 30% of her accounts) were the ones with the most potential to grow – but only if she has the time to focus on them.  Melissa – like most salespeople – found it hard to let go of a customer.  She had to be convinced that her C-level accounts were holding her back.  After some coaxing, she finally let go of her Cs to the customer service team.  What happened? Melissa saw her sales volume double over the next two years, and double again in a year and a half.  And each year since she lets go of her Cs on order to grow.

Prasad’s challenge was different.  He’s a supervisor who rose from the ranks after having done his job exceptionally well.  As a supervisor of 13 people, Prasad found he needed to work far too many hours just to keep up.  After analyzing his duties and how he was spending his time, Prasad discovered that about half of the things he did each day were ones that his staff could do. He also realized that they could grow professionally by taking on those duties.  After working through the process of effective delegation, he used some of his freed-up time to take on the new responsibilities his boss had in mind for him.  As a result, both Prasad and his staff grew by him letting go.

Let go in order to grow worked in Siobhan’s personal life just as well.  Siobhan’s a planaholic who carefully schedules out every hour of personal time.  Lately she wondered why she was so bored with her daily routine.  After seeking advice and closely examining her routine, she identified her routine was the real cause of her boredom…there was no room for spontaneity because last minute invitations and in-the-moment choices interfered with what she had carefully planned.  Habits are hard to break, but Siobhan is a determined person.  So during lunchtime Friday she asked what her coworkers were doing for the weekend.  Patty, Carey, and Khent were going to travel up the coast over the weekend and invited Siobhan to make it a foursome…and she uncharacteristically let go of her schedule and said “yes!” She loved every minute of it.  She let go of her schedule and came back refreshed and determined to start doing more things on the spur of the moment.  After six months she’s no longer bored.  And she’s grown by letting go of her need to have everything scheduled.

Bottom line: no matter what you are holding onto to, sometimes that very thing is holding you back from growing.  What things in your life “own you” that you should let go of?   

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People . This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster

For the past 25 years I’ve worked with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. Thanks to our clients, the company I founded in 1998, Boyer Management Group, was recognized by CEO Monthly Magazine for its “Most Influential CEO Award, 2023” in the executive coaching field.  Our coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time.  Our extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new and developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive.  BMG boasts one of the most extensive sales and sales management curriculums anywhere, with behavioral assessments to help develop talent. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982. 

This post is taken from the best practices taught in our internationally acclaimed leadership and sales training programs, Leading Through People™ 30, Counterintuitive Principles to Ignite Passion & Effectiveness. My clients tell me that my programs pay for themselves in weeks… and continue to deliver value for years.


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