The end of April brings with it the last Transmission on Integrity for the month. We have talked about what Integrity means, how it benefits us, and how truth plays its role. To round out the month, I want to explore simplicity, an idea that may be lost as one continues their study and growth.
It is a common progression as one gets more educated their understanding of a concept becomes more intricate. This is expected as large topics continue to be broken down into smaller and more specific pieces. Details are uncovered that bring new questions and further research. This is part of learning.
As one continues to study and get more specific, one must remember that in practice, simplicity will reign supreme. Simplicity does not indicate a lack of understanding; rather, the simplicity we are talking about here is the simplicity that can only be found from a place of intimate knowledge and understanding. The simplicity being discussed here is the simplicity in approach and execution.
Below are tactics that display this point.
Ask the right questions
There are a select number of core issues that create many of the problems that we humans try to answer for. Many of the issues that show themselves on the surface are simply manifestations of these core issues – things like fear, insecurity, trust, relevance, legacy, and self-image, to name some.
The way to enact simplicity is to ask the right questions to understand what the core issue at play is. Once that is known, a simple plan can be built to address it and move on.
Understand. Plan. Execute. – this is simplicity at its finest. Three words, three steps as a template for any obstacle or goal that one wants to achieve.
I hear a lot: “I’m scatterbrained” or “I’m all over the place” followed up with “that’s just the way my brain works”. This mentality is a deficiency and is symptomatic of one who complicates simple problems. Those same people that make these exclamations are likely the same people that will disagree with this entire Transmission. These people will disagree with the idea that complex problems can be driven down to core concepts and issues. They will state that people are complicated and this view is far too simplistic; that the problems we face as humans have too many layers to be looked at so directly.
And to those people I say, “think whatever you want, but keep an open mind here and learn something”.
To prioritize simplicity one must learn to stay as far out of the weeds of the issue as one can while remaining effective in addressing the issue at hand. It is rarely necessary to understand every fine detail of a situation in order to resolve it – this is because of what was said earlier – most problems we face are manifestations of only a handful of core issues. Sticking to the larger ideas and resolving the big issues will likely resolve the little issues whereas to try to resolve each of the little issues will do nothing but introduce confusion, dead ends, and additional time to the final resolution.
Less is more
This is one strategy one can employ to simplify near anything. Finding a way to communicate with less words, enact processes with less steps, or develop systems with less pieces are all easy ways to simplify.
This ties together a few points above. This can only be done effectively when there is a deep knowledge from where simplicity is founded and one asks the right questions to get the full understanding of what the core issues are. It is only when the problem is understood and one has a bag of tactics and ideas to pull from that one can begin to parse down their words and approach into something that will be maximally effective with the minimal amount of effort.
Looking at this from the other side, a lack of understanding or lack of knowledge is the fast lane to complication. Here is what I mean.
When one does not take the time to understand the problem they are facing, they will come up with a solution to what is thought to be the problem.
Sooner rather than later, though, that plan will be realized to be incomplete when the issue remains or the situation worsens. Maybe some tangential issue comes into the picture, maybe the real issue that lingers beneath the surface continues to fester and get worse. Now, as played, the team has already begun down the path with this plan that is now found to be incomplete. The next natural step is to amend the plan – put a new process into place to address the new issues. Chances are that the proper questions were not asked at this fork either, and so, down the road, another problem may present itself. A few iterations of this and you have a set of extremely complicated processes with many moving parts because one needed to keep putting band-aids on the problems as they came up.
This cycle is generally additive because there is often no opportunity to remove functions and processes that are already there as they are addressing the problems that came before. Adding new processes is the antithesis of simplification.
We must accept simplicity as an answer for the idea to become more prevalent. It is important to understand that just because something is simple does not mean that it is unrefined or under developed. If simple is effective, there is no reason to develop additional complexity.
Simplicity involves work; and work is always effective. It is the overly-complex plans that attempt to outsmart the problem by attempting to shortcut the solution. This must be understood and embraced for simplicity to be real.
Use simplicity as the powerhouse that it is. Get ahead.
Yours in strength,