On recognizing complexity – and fulfilling simplicity

We make the complex easy – a mission statement I have come across more than once in my career. It’s a noble mission: helpful, balancing, almost humanitarian. It doesn’t hit the core though: How do we manage to not be affected by complexity in the first place? After a week of complex tasks and processes, I sit, asking myself, what would happen if we could deflect the mess and urgency that accompanies the complex.

I embarked on my own mission to a simpler life a good many years ago. And like every journey and change in behavior, setbacks have paved my incremental way forward. Recognizing that something is complex is oftentimes the first step – as in everything else, identification is the starting point. And then, there’s the going about the task, working on the solution, that becomes more and more complicated and intricate. Before we know it, it’s a complex web. And all we wanted to do was keep it simple.

I guess that’s hard, with a densely working brain between our ears. It seems we jump at the opportunity to complexify something when working on the solution, only then to strive to simplify it again for others. Another proof of our natural (in-)efficiency.

So, what remains for us is to identify our pattern of complex thinking and problem-solving.

  • When the problem presents itself as a bump in the road, it can be as simple as removing the bump. Not always is it linked to finding the origin of the bump, where it came from, or how it manifested in the first place. Sometimes it’s as simple as removing the bump. Or going around it.
  • Could it be as easy as repeating to oneself „think simple“? When I look at how I tackle a business challenge, my analytical brain just loves to jump to the dense solution and simplify it later on. I guess I get a kick out of the process. But it also hardwires me to initially tackle each problem that way, and then having to repeat „think simple“ in the process. It’s a vicious cycle.
  • And then, there are the times when we add unnecessary factors into the equation because, again, our brain loves interconnecting all its knowledge. Sometimes the answer is simple and easy. And one factor is enough to solve it. Let’s be open to that, once in a while.

On top of recognizing that my patterns are such and such way, I’ve also found that stripping my life of superfluous material and considerations has tremendously helped in staying on a simple thinking path. Note here, simple does not equate basic, underrated or superficial. I use simple here as in streamlined, natural and, above all, focused.

Focus. A focused life, focused decision-making, focused behavior – that’s what I am striving for. Complexity will still arise. Now, I am training myself to quickly recognize it and soothe its stimulus on my energy.

With that, I leave you all. Simply ending it with: Have a simple start to your new week.