Are you ‘kiasu’ enough on being lazy?

Laziness pays off now

There are many merits of being lazy.

Come on, don’t be lazy, be a bit kiasu* and read on.

Laziness is the road to progress, but only when it is combined with intelligent thought and high ambition.

For example, lazy and intelligent managers achieve exceptional results and make the best bosses. Because let’s face it, all successful business careers flow from a few critical decisions, made infrequently.

Don’t think it comes easy though. The best lazy managers have acquired their laziness by working at it for years. 

I myself tried hard to become more lazy throughout my life … but it’s been a struggle!

I know that I achieve more when I work less.

I have my best ideas when I take the time to mindfully listen.

To listen to my voices in my head.

Do you also sometimes have those voices in your head?

Do you listen to them?

I know that the voices in my head may not be real, but they have some darn good ideas!

Actually our brain is most intelligent when we don’t instruct it on what to do – something people who take showers discover on occasion. So they say.

I have my best ideas when I am cycling (and have no paper to jot them down, damned). Not sure how many of my ingenious make-the-world-a-better-place-ideas have gone with the winds.

Your WHY

I still find it hard not to feel at least a little bit guilty about being lazy and then I remember …

… someone who always says ‘I am busy’ is either declaring incompetence (and lack of control of his/her life) or trying to get rid of you or both.

All those busy people are stuck in the Do-Do Trap: So busy doing that there is no time to step back and think about HOW and especially WHY one is doing things.

Be different. Be lazier!

Only being economical with your energy and attention can you make it count when it matters.

The world is not 50/50. The world is 80/20 (as our good friend Vilfredo Pareto has established).

As they say, hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

Now, first you need to know WHY you want to be lazy.

Never be lazy when it comes to finding your WHY!

Certainly not easy, but you’ll be happier for the trouble and it will provide you the fuel for your effective laziness.

And once you know your WHY don’t apply your “laziness-skills” on thinking for yourself.


“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do. The fun is having lots to do and not doing it.” – John W. Raper

“The most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain


* This Singaporean term can be translated into English as “afraid to lose out”. Like many proverbial expressions it can have both positive (like in this post) and negative connotations, but is generally negative. It is used to refer to someone who thinks of themselves first and is always trying to get ahead in one way or another. The English equivalent would be “overcompetitiveness”.


  1. I do not waste ideas that come to me as I am falling asleep or on the train (like now). I grab a pen and paper or my phone (evernote) to capture it.

    It is in our down time, when the wheels in our head are trying to slow down, that “aha” moments often occur. Accirding to neuroscience (explained in David Rock’s book on Quiet Leadership), aha moments happen when dendrites are forming—emerging neural connections which, if we continue to focus on them, write them down, talk ahout them, etc., will become new hard wiring for us.

    Good stuff, Andy!

  2. Hi Andy,

    Oh, about the voices in the head. I always have them, both when busy and “relaxed”, so much that sometimes it can drive me crazy.

    But totally agreed that some of my “new” ideas in teaching actually come when I am trying to get to sleep. When I reflect on my day. Sometimes it get so excited that I couldn’t fall asleep.

    Another great time for thinking is during swim or jog. Face it, it’s damn boring swimming and jogging. So I let me mind wanders off …

    I usually get my teaching ideas during these windows of “down period”

    • Hi Silly Investor,

      Reflection is always good. We are often just chasing through life without slowing down for reflecting on what we experienced and learned.
      What you describe is the “norm”. Still too many forget to see “down periods” as THE value-add activity.

      By the way, I am currently trying to talk to as many of your teaching colleagues as possible to let them know about an innovative App called STOPit. It is proven to prevent bullying at school (just google STOPit App and what the short video-clips to learn how it works). I have obtained the Sales Rights for Singapore recently and now want to identify some “trailblazer-schools” as pilots before I can approach MOE.

  3. Hi Andy

    Your writing skill reached another level! I used to find your contents meaningful but dry and long.

    This time, i fully engrossed with joy of reading and find the length just nice, to the extend tt i am looking forward to the next!

    Pardon me for being blunt, my dear friend and fellow intellectual being to discuss about life 🙂

    You are totally right about being lazy and smart. In my philosophy, i termed it as efficient and minimal. Zen is another word to use!

    • Hi Frugal Daddy,
      Love it. Thank you for your feedback. Highly appreciated. Especially coming from you.
      Why haven’t you told me earlier? I could have started writing shorter posts long time ago.
      Although not always so easy. I guess it is the real Art of Writing to express ones thoughts as concise as possible in as few words as necessary.
      As Blaise Pascal quipped “I would have written you a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” I guess it is safe to say that Blaise Pascal lived before the age of blogging.
      Got less freely disposable time nowadays as I am on a mission to prevent bullying from happening at schools – with the help of a cool Mobile App.

  4. Haha ur starting paragraphs remind me of a long quote of Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, chief of German army during the inter-war years & a staunch critic against Hitler and Nazism:-

    I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.

  5. We ought to recognize that we are not put on earth to see how important we can become in front of everyone else, but to one day see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.

    • Well said.
      Any time we have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and we don’t, then we are wasting our time on Earth. We all can make a little bit of difference to other people every single day. And we don’t have to save the world either. Just don’t mess it up for the next generation.

  6. Great post ! I constantly find myself guilty that I am not busy in this world where everyone defines success based on how busy they are. It has become almost like a sin when I declare to friends that I am not busy 🙂

    • Don’t let them bend you. Be your own trailblazer and let them admire you. Don’t follow the herd blindly because uniqueness always pays.
      And success is whatever YOU define it to be. Don’t let the mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment – YOUR moment. Whether it is a lazy moment or a busy moment – you decide.

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