Simplicity. In a complex world, simplicity is more important than ever. With so many things continually competing for people's attention, the more basic and more straightforward you can make something become, the better.
Here's the thing: simple is more complicated. You must think about and plan what you want to say or do. Sometimes, simplicity requires more thinking and planning than just shooting from the hip. You have to understand why you're saying or doing it. Then, when you are highly focused on the output or results of your efforts, you can adapt your actions to your specific objective and the most essential elements.
Details have a time and place. However, getting focused and stuck on more information too early can complicate things. It can make you less efficient and your message difficult to understand. By staying simple, you can maximize impact and value. We too often try to say or do everything when we must concentrate more on what needs to be said or done.
When we can reduce complexity to simplicity, we have done something. We tend to think that something complex is more intelligent or "deep" when it is less effective and confusing.
How do we move toward simplicity, racing more and more to complexity? It's ridiculous when you think of the average person's deliberations to get a simple meal out. The options are overwhelming. Entire studies are being made about the problem of option overload.
Hans Hofmann says, "The ability to simplify means eliminating the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." That means that when your values are clear, your decisions become very simple.
Lance Witt shares a formula that is very helpful in his book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul, a procedure that equals healthy simplicity:
CLARITY + COURAGE + CALENDAR = SIMPLICITY
Clarity = what matters to you.
What are the things you value? What are the "must dos" of your life? What are the things you want, your goals, and the results you truly desire? You must know them to subtract those not helping you get where you want and need to be. Clarity frees up more time and energy.
Courage = the resolve to make change.
Will you have what it takes to move toward simplicity? Will you have the resolve and discipline to recalibrate your life around what is most important? There will be many people and reasons to retain and not eliminate the non-essential. You will need courage.
Witt gives us some questions to help you think through changes you might need to make:
• Where are you overextended?
• What are you spending time and energy on that's not a core value or priority in your life?
• What are you doing simply because it is an expectation others have put on you?
• What step could you take that would bring greater simplicity to your life?
• What do you sense you need to stop doing?
Calendar = the discipline to execute.
Your calendar is the practical place where your values and priorities get operationalized. Your calendar is more than just a tool to keep you organized, get you to meetings on time, and remember those phone calls. It is a primary tool for helping you become who you want.
If you are not careful, your calendar can be like that junk drawer in your kitchen. It can get filled with all sorts of things that are nothing but useless, random things that clutter your life.
Want to get some traction in your life this fall? Take this back-to-school season to consider your life direction. The plans that get the most traction and long-term success have great clarity, great courage and resolve, and great discipline on your part to execute the plan.
Photo by Paula Schmidt: