I have been trying to grow high end ridiculously expensive hei bi (Cantonese for shrimps) for almost a year now. These shrimps that are no larger than 0.7cm cost $3 to $15 per piece. On random weekends that I manage to bullshit myself that the water conditions are perfect, I will toss away an average of $50; for a bag of tiny (and colorful) shrimps. Only to have them stiffen up and rot away within the week.
I cared, a lot
Boy, oh, boy. I cared a lot. I changed the water religiously every weekend. I researched hard for the best lights that will make the reds on the shrimp redder, the whites on its body whiter. When they kept dying, I wanted to eradicate all possibilities of toxins in the water; be it chlorine or copper in tap water. So I bought a 3-stage water purifier after plenty of research.
This is what hobbies make you do -- to spend a lot of money and time as one dives deeper into the rabbit hole.
Anyways, they kept dying.
I gave up
I am quite a persistent guy. When I have my goals set on something, I usually get my way. Ask my wife or my mom, and they will vouch for this trait of mine.
I started doing just enough maintenance work. I topped up the tank with pure water as the water level dropped due to evaporation. I pulled algae out when it started being an eyesore. And even that, I started doing it a lot less.
And I bought fish because I was "done" with shrimps. Fishes are a huge no-no for shrimps because they eat up baby shrimps.
Then, they thrived
Just when I cared less, what few shrimps that survived began to thrive. They grew bigger. They stopped dying. They thrived. By letting go and doing less, I suspect I let the water conditions stabilize. Shrimps are notoriously picky about the water condition. And while they need clean water, what they need more is a stable environment.
A stable environment
I have been trying to replicate stability at work by micro-managing less; by giving my marbles to another teammate to handle. I find that I do not need to adopt a binary approach between product obsession and totally not giving a fuck. Instead, what I can do is to establish a stable environment for the people that work with me to thrive towards towards a common mission.