Simplicity

As one’s experience grows, they must remember that simplicity will always be effective.

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. 

Prioritize Simplicity

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.

Accept Simplicity

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,

-Jersey

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The Objective and Subjective Truth

It is said there are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Truth is truth. There can be only one scenario that truly happened and everything else is untrue.

However, it is also said that perception is reality.

The fact of the matter is that to try to live in search of the pure, honest truth is a practice in insanity; especially if a situation involves anyone other than yourself. 

People’s perceptions of events are colored by the lens through which they see the world. This lens makes the same event look different to different people. Such a lens is colored by one’s emotions, fears, insecurities, and experiences, among other things. The perceived truth, then, is influenced by such characteristics and produces a confusion that people must live in.

It stands to reason, then, that there is more than just one truth – there are the objective and subjective truths.

Objective Truth

The objective truth, which we have already established is nearly never realized, is the accurate count of events as they happened void of any emotion, fear, etc. The recounting of the objective truth has slim chance of being realized only when there is nothing to be gained or lost by such recount. 

This is why objective truths are unicorns – something that we may talk about but does not exist in the real world. Rarely is there a situation in which there is nothing to be gained or lost, or at least perceived to be gained or lost, by one’s involvement in a situation. The saying “no good deed goes unpunished” comes to mind, here. People are imperfect and will act to protect their own self-interests which will produce unreliable information, even in the best of cases.

Even with no ill-intent, people will see and report things as seen through their own lenses making objectivity rare.

Subjective Truth

The world deals exclusively in subjective truths. The subjective truth is perception; and perception is lousy with unreliable emotion and insecurity. 

The subjectivity of truth is what creates “gray areas” that make life all the more challenging to navigate. With each additional person added to a situation, the more fuzzy and distorted the truth becomes and it soon becomes a practice in finding the scenario of best fit – the most probable truth based on the scenario that makes the most sense to the most recollections of an event.

Gray Areas

I have discussed these gray areas before in decision making and I will discuss them again, here. I do not like gray areas and drive to see things for their objectivity and truth. I encourage others to do the same through intentional detachment from situations and focusing on facts rather than emotion.

There are people that make careers out of successfully navigating gray areas in a way that benefits them. There are people that live for the excitement of the negotiation and the thrill of playing to people’s emotions to change their perspective or have them thinking in a specific way. 

Navigating these gray areas is a necessary skill when dealing with emotional beings. Those that can do this the best will often be the most successful as they are best able to bring people to their side of an argument to strengthen their forces.  

The subjective nature of people makes many things that should not be negotiable, negotiable. This propensity to be influenced and persuaded leads to the many inefficiencies that people face daily. Succumbing to such influence and persuasion is weak; however, some will willingly be persuaded and influenced as it takes a load off of their shoulders and a decision off of their mind as they allow others to make their minds up for them. 

Integrity

As commentary on Integrity, it should be obvious that this willingness to be persuaded is low Integrity behavior. As we are discussing subjectivity, the fact that people are motivated by their own interests and self-preservation, my point somewhat makes itself. Those people that are attempting to persuade and influence others have their best interest in mind and are out to push their agenda forward. Allowing oneself to be persuaded is forfeiting Integrity to another and tainting one’s own Integrity. 

Without the strength and unity that comes with one’s Integrity, one is more susceptible to persuasion and outsourcing their decisions to those seen as an authority or as having more knowledge then oneself. That gray area that such people like to live in is leaving them exposed to those that have learned how to navigate this fog and lead others to make logical connections on their playing field rather than one’s own.

Living in This Reality

The subjective nature of truth in the real world leads to many unfair situations. The acceptance of the gray areas in day-to-day life is a cop-out that sidesteps logic and emotional development. Those that strive to find the objectivity in situations are fighting an uphill battle with minimal resources on their side. 

When such subjectivity cannot be beat, the Initiated must turn their attention instead toward navigating in this territory of indecision and half-truths. The ability to detach from one’s own emotions and focus instead on how to navigate the emotions of others is the best way to find closure. 

When two or more parties are driven by emotion over logic, there is no appeal being made to a logical and collected being. Emotion does not reason nor does it listen. Emotion is akin to a freight train barreling down the tracks destroying anything in its path. As it continues farther down the hill, the more momentum it picks up and the more destruction left in its path. It takes at least one person to derail the runaway train, pick up pieces of information left behind, and tie together the information into coherent thoughts. 

The Initiated will fill this role more often than not. The Initiated perform the required self-reflection and are equipped with the tools to handle such conflict. They are able to emotionally detach from a situation to be the voice of reason. 

It may be unfair that this responsibility should fall on the Initiated; however, as we are best equipped to take this role, it is our responsibility to see past our immediate impulse and look onward toward the bigger and better picture that must be upheld. 

Once one learns to navigate the minefield of others’ emotions, they are able to show others how to do the same for themselves. It is through such practice that the Initiated show the power of the Tenets.

Be better than average – fill the roles that we are best equipped to fill and make a difference in the world through making a difference in the immediate communities that you affect.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Living with Integrity

Expanding on last week’s Transmission we look at more ways Integrity will improve aspects of one’s life.

After introducing Integrity and discussing the larger idea and power of the concept, I will continue to build on Integrity through discussion of some other characteristics of the Tenet. 

Last week I described Integrity as the larger picture of unifying one’s resources toward their vision and goal. Beginning with first understanding all of the parts that make up one’s vision, one can then begin to prioritize, plan, and strategize on how to get to that end. It is the building and strengthening of resources that provide Integrity to a plan as it is the unficiation and completeness of the plan that makes it stronger than the sum of all of its parts.

This drive for deeper understanding and strategy will provide further value in one’s life past efficiently and successfully executing on one’s goals; it will also show itself in how one acts toward others and how the actions and thoughts of others will affect them.

Self Validation

The power of a good strategy is that one will have views of the full picture and end goal. This will assist one in understanding the role each part of one’s life plays in that larger picture. With this, one can see how each gain in a single discipline or area feeds into their larger efforts and one is able to validate for themselves the good or bad they accomplish. 

The same cannot be said for someone who does not have such Integrity. Lacking a full view of the picture, the validation and praise from others will become important to the individual. Without understanding how one part affects and feeds into another, one does not understand how their actions are affecting the larger whole. This uneasiness will foster a reliance on external validation to fill that gap in understanding. 

Such reliance on something outside of oneself leaves oneself vulnerable. Not only do we not have control over how others act, we must realize and understand that people are inconsistent and driven by their own motivations. This speaks to the importance of building a strong community, which has been further discussed here.

The feeling of being unsure of one’s actions is what leaves the door open to relying on external validation; whereas, if one can build the knowledge to remove unsureness, they can gauge their own successes and validate their actions for themselves. If one does not currently know everything that is needed, the gaining of such knowledge will be part of their strategy and plan. As one continues to learn and fill knowledge gaps that may currently exist, they can further strengthen their ability to validate their actions for themselves. 

Projection onto Others

Along the same lines as self validation, the Integrity with which one lives their life will likely lessen the urge to project their beliefs and thoughts onto others. 

When one has a vision and feels the drive to get there, it is not important to convince others that they are doing the right thing or that their thoughts/beliefs are better than others. Their mission becomes about driving to their goal rather than getting support or acknowledgement from others.

Support from a community is great; but understood to not be necessary. A good community can boost one’s successes and a distracting community can be a liability. 

One who lives with Integrity influences those around them by living in line with their values and sharing their thoughts with those who show interest. Through leading by example one’s impact is genuine and lasting and further provides onlookers a better picture of what those values look like.

Fearlessness

With Integrity comes clarity – clarity in planning and execution, clarity in the mission, and clarity with oneself. It is clear what needs to be done to succeed and it is further clear to see that one individual’s success is not dependent upon the failure of another. When living with such focus and intention, one approaches problems and assess solutions differently.

With Integrity, one begins to assess paths not by chances of success but instead by efforts and resources needed to be successful. A plan with Integrity is not concerned with statistics of success – it is driven by more than this. Problems are approached with the belief that failure is not an option and that success simply depends upon the right plan and relentless execution.

The power of one’s resources multiply when all are focused on the same target. Much like a firearm, it is the barrel that contains and directs all of the energy of the cartridge, directing and optimizing that energy toward a single target. A plan, built with Integrity, is the barrel that will contain and focus one’s energy toward the goal.

Wrap Up

All of the Initiated Tenets are simple to grasp but have depth to study; this is by design. By choosing a small number of Tenets and then diving deep into the study of each one allows one to find connections and relationships that may otherwise have been missed. This idea itself is further application of the concept of Integrity and further speaks to the power of the concept.

The study and application of Integrity is carried through from cradle to grave – it is something that should be considered in the beginning when constructing one’s own philosophy and should carry all the way through execution to the end goal. 

Making sure that everything works together and works together well is the real way to optimize. 

Optimize and overcome.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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A Life With Integrity

The common definition of Integrity provides only the smallest piece of the concept.

To define Integrity as simply acting to a moral code or as acting with moral uprightness would be to miss the real power of the concept. While these definitions are not incorrect, they fail to capture the full scope of what it means to live with Integrity. To act with Integrity is to direct all actions and decisions to be in line with a moral code or set of acceptable behaviors; whereas to live with Integrity is to unify all areas of one’s life in alignment with a clear vision of where one wants to go. It is this idea of unity and completeness that is the real power Integrity.

A Short Metaphor

When a building or structure has integrity it means it is complete and structurally sound; it is built to spec combining all of the required components to make the structure stand safe and be equipped to perform its intended function. A structure’s integrity depends upon all features of its construction starting from the foundation, to the steel, to the wall systems, windows, interior, roof system, etc. Anything that is built on or within the structure must appropriately interact with all other parts for it is all of the pieces of the building that makes the final product safe, lasting, and fit for purpose. 

To reach that end, a building’s design is first based on the requirements of what the structure will be used for as the structure’s intended purpose will inform many of the design considerations. From there, engineers must consider the location of the structure, the construction schedule, and the budget. The combination of these criteria come together to inform the final design product that will be built. There exists an ideal combination of these criteria to optimize both the design and construction efforts to support the final goal of a safe and functioning building that can be built on time and on budget.

These same considerations that architects and engineers give to building design should be considered by each person that is planning and building their life. 

Defining the Criteria

A fulfilled life is a compilation of many components; some being direct ties to the Initiated tenets and some that are interpretations, applications, and implementations of those Tenets. Regardless, the fulfilled life for any person considers the many aspects that must support and integrate with each other to build a life that is more than the sum of all of its parts.

Consider some of the following things that are typical staples of descriptions of the “perfect life”. Consider the time and effort required to only maintain these different areas let alone excel in each of them:

  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Financial stability
  • Physical ability
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Mental strength / Intelligence
  • Community
  • Hobbies
  • Travel

It is the integration and interaction of these things that come together to provide the full scope of what one’s life is intended to be. It is the application of Integrity that will optimize one’s efforts toward each area in support of the integrated whole.

Again, this list is general as each person must define their own goals and further define the level of importance assigned to each item in order to bring into focus what that ideal life will look like. One must visualize what that perfect combination will feel like, look like, sound like, where it is, and when it will be reached. From there, one can begin to build their plan to get there considering the role each one will play and how it will interact and integrate with the others.

This concept of Integrity is often overlooked or marginally implemented in constructing one’s plan. Understanding how all of these pieces will fit and interact with each other is important. It is often an oversight as it is the Integrity of the plan that will determine how close one will eventually come to that vision of their ideal life. 

On Limitations

A truth that must be accepted is that each person’s ability to achieve everything that they want will be limited by their ability to capitalize on their resources. Many do not have infinite resources available to them and even if one found themselves with unlimited financial or personnel resources at their disposal, they will still not be able to buy themselves more time. This is to say that one’s lifetime is finite. Delegating tasks and to create time to dedicate elsewhere is a good strategy, but time remains the universal limitation that all must aim to maximize.

Understanding and exploiting Integrity is the idea of unifying all resources and actions toward the same end. Spent resources that do not provide equivalent or exceeding returns must be limited as it will be a violation of the Integrity one seeks to build.

The Fallacy of Balance

Further to implementing Integrity is the understanding that perfect balance should not be pursued as the goal in building an integrated whole. To try to build all parts of one’s life equally and concurrently will be deciding to fail at all parts equally. Balance is only reached at the end of the pursuit, when there is no further building to be done. It is the point of contentment; of homeostasis – all parts have found their spot and no further adjustment is needed.

Instead, it is more beneficial to one trying to build their life to do so in an unbalanced but controlled manner; the idea being to delegate one’s resources more heavily to a smaller number of pursuits at any one time to maximize the gains from their efforts while other areas are put in maintenance mode as to not lose ground. Cycling through each area of the plan over a period of time allows one to build all of the pieces into the larger end picture. 

The degree of unbalance and the frequency of this cycling of focus is determined by one’s strategy.

This concept speaks to a larger unified expenditure of resources. Each action taken that is not in line with the larger goal violates the Integrity of one’s life. Optimizing one’s Integrity will afford them the maximum return on investment and will work toward the ideal combination of all of the parts and pieces. 

Further, by having a larger plan in place that bounds all actions those unbalanced actions will support the trend headed toward the peak of achievement.

Tying it Together

Integrity is the single Tenet that ties all of the other Tenets together. It is the driving undercurrent that makes the Initiated Lifestyle work. Without such Integrity toward a single vision, the Tenets will be disjointed and lacking the optimization to make the Initiated Lifestyle comprehensive. 

Integrity may be the most important Tenet to understand and implement as without it, one’s strategy will be plagued with inefficiencies and make the entire pursuit of the Lifestyle far harder than necessary. 

Integrity is required to optimize the strategy while the strategy is how one is going to get to that peak compilation of all of the Tenets. 

Build your life with Integrity and take advantage of the integration of efforts to compound the strength and potential each affords.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey 

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