Why simplicity leads to success

Posted by in Productivity

Why simplicity leads to success

Life is akin to an onion; it accumulates an increasing amount of layers as time goes by – all of which contribute in varying degrees to the final result, but few of which are in proximity to the very core. Naturally, this begs the following question: do we need them all – and if not, what would we gain from shedding the surplus?


Escape the beat of the drum


In a time and age where everything and everyone seems hell-bent on applying Moore’s law to life itself in an attempt to achieve success, one can hardly be blamed for assuming the best way to succeed is to work ever-harder and ever-more. The Universe, on the other hand, has a crush on a little something called balance – and I’m afraid resistance is futile.


As mentioned in Malcom Gladwell’s excellent book, Outliers, becoming truly successful does require hard work – in the range of 10.000 hours or so, if you’re aiming for world-class. Still, practice and experience is only part of the equation for succeeding; for instance, being the world’s foremost expert at erecting pyramids may not have the same impact in the A.C. as in the B.C.


Under such circumstances, simplicity is the ultimate enabler. Through reducing the number of extraneous activities in which you are engaged, you gain a double opportunity through freeing up time and mental resources. Not only can you then wisely invest in reflecting upon where to execute; you also have the actual time and mental resources to execute exceptionally well.


The alternative? Dumb luck, also known as ‘going with the flow’.


Simplify, succeed and repeat


It’s never easy to relinquish commitments and possessions – material or otherwise. Thus, my advice would be to start small – and if your actions in the department of simplicity affect others than yourself, such as a spouse or an employer, attempt to achieve a certain degree of success prior to discussing increasing your commitment to the concept.


Another benefit of seeing the first results is the always-welcome effect of a virtuous cycle; success breeds more success, similar to how simplicity breeds more simplicity.  Remember, though, that the Universe wants its balance, and being a simplicist is different to being a minimalist similar to how fewer is different to few, respectively.


A litte simplicity a day goes a long way


Here’s a suggestion. Tonight, if you’re not too busy working hard, sit yourself down and imagine a visit from your friendly neighbourhood career mentor – only this one has a) his firearm of choice located conveniently near your temple; b) a bit of a temper; and c) a rather pressing request for you to remove one item from your platter.


Heck, make it one thing from work and one thing from personal life.


Now ask yourself the following: what’s the worst that could happen if I execute on this?