Learning Simplicity’s Promise | In-Between the Pages

Mastering Simplicity Can Lift and Give Perspective (Image: Shawn Ward)

We need to learn the opportunities simplicity can lend us by understanding it from others that have mastered it. There is a lot that masters of the Pareto Principle, Japanese master of organizing Marie Kondo, Ken Segall the author of Insanely Simple, and other essentialist from our history can teach us the power of simplicity.

Let’s start with the Pareto Principle that teaches us that focusing on the 20% of our actions will usually contribute to 80% of the results. If we can truly master 80/20 we can achieve a lot through filtering to find that 20%. Focusing on the 20% that makes the difference is much better than focusing on the 80% that doesn’t add up to much. Or worse, we try to chew off the 100%. The majority of your results will consistently come from a minority of inputs. Knowing this, here’s some ways you can accomplish more and why.

  • 20% of workers contribute 80% of the results: Focus on rewarding these employees (not necessarily only these – all employees need recognition) to keep the momentum alive
  • 20% of bugs contribute to 80% of crashes: Focus on fixing these bugs first to get an faster release in your next software version to the public
  • 20% of your clothes tend to make up 80% of what you wear on a daily basis, focus on that look, save money by doing so
  • 20% of our relationships often produce 80% of our experiences of love and support, make sure those get the most attention in how you connect with them

The principle when used correctly is a powerful tool for simplifying our daily decision making. When we can determine which of our activities give us the most reward and feeling, that’s huge. You will essentially get more with less.

Essentialist like Greg McKeown author of “Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less” reminds us that there is only so much time in a day and energy in the body. To often we try to do EVERYTHING, and come up disappointed with nothing to show for our work. Greg helps us to understand our modern culture, filter it so it’s not telling us what to value, and how to become a lot happier. Greg helps us understand how greatly we improve our chances of living our most optimistic and meaningful life when we learn how to prioritize what matters as well ignoring the rest that doesn’t.

An incredible master of filtering is Marie Kondo and her amazing book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Kondo addresses our need to clutter and collect things in our lives that we think will bring us joy, yet really don’t. Very simply (again no pun intended) you start with everything in a pile, pick one item at a time asking the question “Does this bring me joy?”, and if not it goes in a box to donate. She promises us in her book that if we properly simplify and organize what’s most important, you will achieve or spark the most joy. This KonMari method will lead to long lasting results over time.

Our last example in the power of simplicity mastery is Ken Segall who takes us on a journey through the example of Apple and Steve Job’s uncompromising focus on simplicity in everything he focused this company on. He teaches you how thinking minimally, small, staying in motion, tackling all with a iconic mindset, and using every weapon you have to wage war can help you achieve standing out against your competition. People prefer simplicity over complexity, in fact in nature it’s the simplest species that is the most successful. So, why not apply this to a product and use the workplace as the best place to show simplicity’s advantage. We tend to prefer simple over complex as well choosing products we use in our everyday life. Ken does an incredible job showing this through Apple’s work with the iPhone and iPad. Ken showcases for us that by understanding the human need for simplicity, you can build enduring business-customer relationships.

We will have one more dive into simplicity to wrap up this series. We will spend the next post understanding what you can do to fine tune your own work on becoming more simplistic in your approach and simplifying your vision/purpose for others. Here’s another quote we can end with. It’s a replay of one I posted in this series already, but it really captures what we are trying to accomplish here.

That’s been one of my mantras – focus an simplicity. 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

Thanks for reading everyone. Talk to you again later this week.


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