For Real Growth, Go Deep Not Wide
Using the Zorro principle for self growth
Do you want real change and sustainable progress in your personal life? Are you tired of stretching yourself too thin trying to change everything at once?
Meet the Zorro principle. The legend was that when Zorro was training to become a sword master, his master would draw a circle around him. In order to widen that circle, Zorro had to master the current circle. Once he was both comfortable and excelling, the circle would slowly widen.
I came across the Zorro principle while reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The principle advises against the all or nothing mindset when trying to change life. It guards against “frustrated attempts and overwhelming stressors (that) hijack our brain, jumpstarting that vicious and insidious cycle of helplessness that puts our goals even further out of reach.”
The principle entails choosing one area of life or work to develop first. Draw a circle around that task and only when we improve on that task, to add more.
An Example of How The Zorro Principle Could Work In Real Life
Let’s say that you decide you want to work on becoming more mindful and intentional. You automatically think of five ways to develop: join a yoga class, meditate in the morning, develop the perfect morning routine, savor your food during meal times and go without the phone for a week.
All of these ideas are great ways to develop mindfulness. However, if we decide to take them all on at once, we won’t stay with it. There will be too much stress and it will be difficult to keep going.
Let’s say that we apply the Zorro Principle and start with choosing to go without the phone for a week. The first small circle could be choosing to go one day without your most common used app. Once you can go one day without it try it again. After a few days of not using that app, include another app. Slowly build until you are able to go one full day without the phone. If you want to keep going, master the art of being able to go for one week without the phone.
Only once you’ve mastered the circle of phone usage, add a small amount of time, maybe three minutes, for meditation. You have mastered using the phone less at this point and can safely build up the time to meditate. Once you’ve mastered both circles, add another task to your circle. During this process, you are constantly enlarging your circle and can build out from there to affect more habits once you master the current circle.
The reason that this works is that by using this process, you are allowing yourself to slowly build one area. You are allowing yourself time and space to build instead of rushing to change everything. This approach will lead to change that will last.
Goal Setting Using the Zorro Principle
When you set goals, do you write down one to excel at or think in terms of five or more?
Instead of creating a massive list, choose one goal to accomplish. Work on it in small amounts and by drawing slightly larger circles. Work on it until you see the results you want. As time progresses and you have mastered the change or goal, add another one. More goals can always be added once the main change we were seeking is accomplished. Change that goes deep instead of wide tends to last longer. Be patient enough with yourself to go deep.
How to Choose the Area to Work On
Consider the following questions:
- What is the most meaningful area you could spend time developing?
- What would bring the biggest change?
- What change or development really has your focus right now?
Choose to go deep into that goal. Break it up into mini-circles and work towards meeting that one goal before moving on.
The Zorro principle is about starting small and building for sustainable change. It starts with one circle and expands to cover more ground, makes it possible to develop the change or habit and then allowing ourselves to add from there. Keep the circle small at first and build. Give your attention to the small circle instead of flipping between multiple goals.