In Action, Change, Leaders

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Throughout our lives and careers, we will from time to time find ourselves in situation that seem a little – or a lot – overwhelming.  The entire year 2020 may end up being one we remember that way.  As unique as this year may be however, challenges and stress and uncertainty are always there, and they will always be looking for an opportunity to knock us down.

When I work with leaders who feel they’re on the verge of being knocked down, I hear a lot of them say similar things.  They talk about how complex the situation is and how many variables there are and how hard it is to get their arms around such a complicated situation.  Sometimes they’re right, but quite often things aren’t as complicated as they make them out to be.

I’m not a psychologist, but it seems like we want our overwhelming problems to be complicated, because that somehow provides a legitimate explanation for why we haven’t solved them.  If our problems were simple, we think, then we would have solved them already.  Therefore, this must be extremely complex.

It’s true that sometimes we deal with extraordinarily complex issues, and that to a certain degree, complex problems require complex solutions.  But that’s not always the case.  Quite often, the simpler solution is the right one.  The big reason for that is because we have a better chance of implementing them.

Once upon a time, we worked with a client whose specialty seemed to be coming up with complex solutions to problems.  Those solutions sounded impressive.  We’d sit there and listen to his ideas about how to fix problems and think, boy, this guy is a genius.  The trouble was that the solutions were so great that nobody could actually implement them.  They may have been great in theory, but if you can’t implement the theory then it’s pretty useless.

Think about your business in our current craziness.  What can you simplify?  What problems have workable solutions that will have an impact?  You don’t have to do something Nobel Prize-worthy every time you improve your business.  Simple changes have an impact, and they’re much more likely to actually happen.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the more complicated stuff you do, the better job you’re doing as a leader.  What are you actually getting done?  And would more get done if you just focused on simple?  Ask yourself the question, and don’t over-complicate the answer.

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