“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” (Steve Jobs)
It has also been said, “Any idiot can be complicated; but it takes genius to be simple.” Indeed as is evident from the work of Steve Jobs, the most effective communicators and operators are those who take the complex and make it simple.
Living in an Overwhelmed World
If you monitor blogs and news articles, you will notice an increase in articles with headings like: “7 things to stop doing right now”, “How best to focus on what is important”, “3 ways to be more productive” and so on. We also find ourselves receiving input via email, WhatsApp, Instant Messaging and Skype – never mind meetings, phone calls and conversations.
Our world has over time become incredibly complex and our attention is drawn in so many directions every day. We are expected to always be on and always be responding to everything. No wonder we feel tired and overwhelmed.
The Apple Lesson
The above quote by Steve Jobs points us towards the solution for this problem of being overwhelmed – simplicity. Apple products like the Iphone, Ipad and Mac have done well because one of Steve Jobs’ intense passions was to ensure that what they produced as a company was simple.
The drive towards simplicity is the reason why most of Apple products have clean lines, only one main button and a lot of white space. Apple have mastered the art of taking complex technology and simplifying it down to what is important.
The Simplicity Sculpture
We need to develop the art of simplicity if we are going to prosper in our increasingly complex and demanding world. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” So too Ernst F. Shumacher (1911-1977) declared, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
These thinkers were responding to their world at the time, which was a lot less complex than ours today, giving us even more reason to sculpture our energies into something simple.
The Benefits of Simplicity
Simplicity has a number of benefits.
Great Work: If we focus more on what is important, we will then do the ‘great’ work and not just the ‘busy’ work. We will be efficient, effective and more understandable.
Clarity: If we simplify our lives we will have greater clarity about what we should be doing. We can then make decisions about our future and about the use of our time, rather than just being moved around by the circumstances or demands upon us.
Enjoyment: If we are doing great work and simplifying our lives by focussing on less, we will enjoy what we do more. We need to take moments to appreciate the small things, like the beauty of nature or the smile of a friend.
Better Leadership: Develop the art of taking profound truths and making them simple, which will enable you to communicate more effectively. Apple has stood out because they have taken complex technology and made it simple.
Jesus made the Complex Simple
Jesus is the best example of someone who took profound truths and communicated them in a way which had a significant impact. He said to His disciples in Matthew 22:37-40 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus simplified all of the law and the prophets into two commandments – love God and love your neighbour. His disciples took this vision and changed the world. May these truths challenge you to actively decide to simplify.
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.