Keep it simple…

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity; but I would give my life for the simplicity the other side of complexity.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

We humans are great at creating complexity. We assign worth and value to most complicated things, instead of seeking to find ways to simplify and distill into what is truly most important.

There is such beauty in simplicity. When you can break past the tendency to complicated and seek to understand the essence of what truly matters. I greatly admire those that can drill down and identify what is important and dispense with all the superfluous B.S. that we create in an attempt to justify our efforts.

How does one create this clarity in your life? In the moments within the day where the lure of complexity can be an irresistible draw? I am no expert in this arena for sure, I find myself caught in the vortex of complication far too often. However, I am intensely focused on growing and improving in this area of life.

There are a million questions or tactics one might employ in an effort to simplify (see, making it complicated is easy!) and there is probably no one solution for every situation or every person. For me, I am focused on seeking to answer one question. “What is the most important thing to focus on RIGHT NOW?” I have found that this provides great clarity, and with clarity comes simplicity. It is almost as though the lens of complexity is removed and all the non-value added things fall away.

Because complexity can be so pervasive this is a question I find myself focusing on moment to moment throughout the day. It is the question I ask myself during the pause in a conversation before I respond (when I remember to do it…) Is it working? Yes. When I remember to keep it simple that is…

Intelligent fools…

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

E. F. Schumacher

Today’s quote reminds me of a post from a few weeks ago that you can find here.

The burden of communication is on the one who is communicating, not the person who is to receive the message. Great communicators find ways to make the message simple, to reduce complexity, to convey only what matters to the story they are telling. If someone insists on making it complicated, it is more about themselves than the person they are trying to communicate with. This isn’t to say that there aren’t incredibly intricate things that must to be conveyed but the ability to do so will be completely dependent on one’s ability to simplify the information. Having all the data and information in the world won’t help if you can’t convey it in a meaningful fashion.

Here are a just a few questions and tips to consider when you are working to simplify the complicated:

  • What is the story I am trying to tell?
  • What is the single most important thing I need the other person to understand?
  • How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? How can I make this simpler? (Yes, I repeated that three times, it is the continual asking of this question that allows one to distill down to the essence of what matters.)
  • What are the questions that I want to be asked?
  • Why does this matter to my audience? If there is a single word or thought that doesn’t matter can I kill it?

There are a million great questions and ways to further refine the complex but it starts with a deep desire to communicate clearly and cleanly with the focus on the audience and what they need to understand, not what you need to convey. Otherwise, you run the risk of being labeled an intelligent fool…

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