Logistics and grit

Yesterday, my wife asked our youngest son, age 6, to help put items into the recycle bin. I think it was just a coffee can and a couple empty laundry detergent containers.

Instead of placing the items inside the recycle bin, he placed them on top of the bin. Why? Well, just above the recycle bin was a box hanging on the wall, obstructing the bin from opening fully. So, he would’ve had to pull the recycle bin out slightly to open its lid.

He didn’t feel like it. I found it funny but I asked him, “Should we do that for all our garbage? What then is the trash can for?” He got the idea.

The box obstructing the recycle bin is the box our 55″ TV arrived in. I figure we’ll need it for when we move again.


I like re-reading books and re-listening to speeches. I get more the second, third, fourth time around. This morning, I re-listened to an interview with James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (2018).

At one point, he presents this analogy of a hose with a kink in it and asks, how does one get more water power out the hose? You could just turn the pressure up. You could also straighten out the kink.

The same applies to building habits. A lot of motivational speakers focus on perseverance, grit, willpower. That works. We could also setup the environment to make the desired habit easier to perform and the undesired habit more difficult.

He said, and I’m paraphrasing, to make the desired habit the lazier decision. Genius.


My son wasn’t being lazy in placing the trash on top of the trash can instead of inside it. It was my fault. I failed to set him up to succeed. He followed the path I presented him. (By the way, I removed the from box obstructing the bin.)

I serve as a logistics officer. The word logistics may mean many different things at my job. In business classes I’ve taken, it refers to the physical distribution of goods. Sometimes it means the supply chain from source of supply, to wholesale, to retail, to sale, and on through the after-sale support.

In the military, it may refer specifically to the category that encompasses supply, maintenance, and transportation, or to the broader category of sustainment, which includes logistics, personnel services, and health services.

In lay use, it refers to the everything else that helps one do a job or task. It refers to the indirect. If you’re a brain surgeon, then logistics means the nurses and assistants, the operating room, the surgical instruments, and everything else needed to do brain surgery.

If you’re an accountant, then it means the office, the computer, the software, the phones, the copier, the forms, and everything else needed to do accounting.

I even remember hearing a pick-up artist use the word logistics to refer to the everything else that supports seducing; the venues, travel between venues, food, drink, fuel, wifi, lodging, safe sex, the setup of his home to be clean, safe, and inviting… the everything else needed to do seducing and to get his fans talking and calling him back for more.


We could try harder. And we could also reduce the cost of trying by setting up the environment for success.

If you want your kids to eat healthier, then make the sugary snacks harder to reach or just don’t put them in the grocery cart in the first place.

If you want your kids to watch less television, then setup the living room to face in a direction other than the television or turn off the wifi at a certain time.

If you want your kids to put the trash in the trash can, don’t obstruct the trash can.


If you want people to do their jobs better (or do their jobs at all), don’t make it hard for them to do it. Make it easier. Make work easier for the next person. Set them up to succeed.