The word ‘Optimum’ is explained as follows in The Positive Dictionary:
Optimum: Make optimum use of available resources.
· The optimum is the maximum of effectiveness.
The word ‘optimum’ is one of those words which have a deeper meaning than what seems to be on the surface. In fact, it is a positive word that is important for of all facets of life, in work, in business, in play, in the family, in relationships, in our personal lives, in our thinking and in our actions.
The word was originally a Latin word, meaning ‘best.’ That is the meaning that is generally associated with the word ’optimum.’ The deeper meaning, however, is not simply ‘best,’ in the sense of ‘maximum.’ It means that there are always restrictions or conditions under which things can be the best. The word ‘optimum’ therefore means the best results obtainable under specific conditions.
We all strive to obtain good results in whatever we do. It is part of our basic values, learned in the home and at school, namely to ‘do your best.’ In our youth we write exams and do our best to achieve high marks. We set goals and we do our best to attain them. We play in sport and we do our best to achieve the best score to win the game.
There are two important components required to achieve any results. The first component is that in order to achieve results we need resources, such as materials, products, tools, money, expertise, energy and more. Without resources nothing can be accomplished. The second component necessary for results is action, such as working, exercising, performing and more to make it happen.
Taking all the elements in the two components together we essentially have the basis of a system, which is defined as follows: A system consists of elements, or parts, functioning together towards a common purpose. Within a system there are resources, processes and outputs relating to specific goals. We normally use three measurements to measure ‘the best’ performance of a system, namely:
Efficiency, which is the amount of resources used to achieve certain outputs, e.g. cost per barrel of oil produced.
Productivity, which is the extent of output per unit of time, e.g. the number of feet drilled per day and
Effectiveness, which is the extent to which stated goals are achieved, e.g. the well is producing the excepted volume of oil.
It is, however, also important to ensure optimum function of a system. Each of the elements within a system has certain limiting factors, such as cost, availability, quality, durability, which set certain conditions for the functioning of the system. A system also functions within an external environment with many elements which can influence the system either positively or negatively in respect of its functioning. The environment within which a system functions also imposes certain conditions which can be limiting on the functioning of the system.
These conditions require sound decisions on how to use the resources in an optimum way, i.e. optimally, and to function optimally, e.g. in the best possible way under the conditions. Any decision can have unintended negative consequences since all the elements in a system are interconnected. These unintended consequences should always be avoided. Optimal decisions for optimal results therefore require optimal thinking and optimal action.
Let’s take a car as an example. A car is essentially a system with, on average, about 7000 individual parts, all functioning together to form a car. A person drives a car to reach a certain destination. That is the purpose. On the road to the destination there are certain conditions. There are traffic, pedestrians, stop streets, traffic lights and possibly detours and sharp turns, The driver must take all these conditions continuously into account and make optimal (the best) decisions to attain the optimal result under these conditions, namely to reach the destination on time, safely and with optimal (the best) use of gas per kilometer driven.
The word ‘optimum’ is also important for us in our personal lives. We are all subjected to certain limiting conditions in our lives. We have limitations in resources, in our thinking and in our actions. We are also exposed to conditions which may limit our capabilities and deter us from reaching personal goals. We can, however attain optimum results in various ways such as the following:
· We can think more optimally by considering all the factors in the broader picture before we make decisions.
· We can act more optimally by planning in detail what we have to do, and how to do it.
· We can relate more optimally with people by being warm, open, considerate and compassionate.
· We can improve our health through an optimal combination of diet, exercise and relaxation.
· We can do more community service through optimum use of our time.
· We can achieve our goals through optimum use of all our resources.
By striving to attain optimum results in whatever we do we can indeed attain optimum satisfaction and happiness in life.
© Dr Phil Minnaar, Author of The Positive Dictionary
The Positive Dictionary contains only words with positive meanings. Each word is explained in the form an action which can be practiced to become more positive in life.
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