We expect, if we apply effort over time, for value to come to us in a way that can fluctuate but usually stays close to the average.

What we get in the modern world is value that comes in bursts. A large amount of effort goes to waste, but it's worth it for the small amount of effort that nets a very high return.

This concept is talked about in The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and in Sam Altman's strategy for dealing with meetings:

Having an open network is valuable; though probably 90% of the random meetings I take are a waste of time, the other 10% really make up for it. - Productivity by Sam Altman

This probably applies to:

  • Meetings, as suggested
  • Books read
  • Projects taken up
  • People met