Simplicity, Part 1
I am dedicating this post in honor of 4 human beings I have had the blessing to know and who all passed on to what I call The Next Realm, in the month of April. This one is for you Carl, Tina, Shannon and Ken. Your kindness and good natures kept it simple and good to be around you.
It is a simple concept (virtue, strength of character), but it requires conscious work. That being said, it is fun… and it works… if you work it.
Music for me is a source of simplicity and the joy that comes with it. I lose myself in the song. The musicians I know seem to love to work at it so that the performance is simple; perform.
Consider this 58 second snippet from an interview with Prince. He speaks of the ability to “stop on a dime” and the excellence of Bruce Springsteen and James Brown in doing so. That kind of excellence is simple, but requires work. It is about mastering the fundamentals.
For a little more on the excellence of Prince, check out this post on LINKEDIN.
Now, consider the virtue of simplicity. It is knowing what you care about… clear of clutter and excess… true to purpose; these are the strengths of simplicity. The physical manifestations of it are guided by clear focus and purposefulness. Prince refers to the boatload of unpublished music as if “it will happen when it happens”. You can sense his true purposefulness. He lived to write music and he wrote music to live. He was a true artist. Such an approach fosters not only excellence… but an appreciation and joy for the now and for life.
Living in a Complex World
We seemingly live in a complex world with a multitude of sides and agendas and supposed shades of grey. There are many demands on us… and we often respond accordingly… with shotgun focus; hoping that will work. If we do not respond, we often fear missing something or the guilt of not responding. Certain temperaments experience this more than others but it is a somewhat universal experience to one degree or another.
Simplicity is not only a virtue… a strength of character; it is our best path through the “overwhelm”. Trying to be all things to all people leads us to mediocrity and burnout. Sharpening our focus and detaching from distractions can serve us to reach new realities of excellence and joy… joyful excellence. It can help us to serve who we serve as best as we possibly can.
Some Good Works on Simplicity
Joe Calloway speaks and writes and consults on this. I have long admired his work and message. Keep it simple. Work on the fundamentals. Strive for consistent excellence in meeting expressed and understood expectations.
Greg McKeown in his book Essentialism speaks to this too. Steven Pressfield delivers a message in line with simplicity as well. The message is “stick to the knittin'”, whatever you chose the knittin’ to be. Get a clear and fierce focus.
Our own work has been evolving with this message. With 30 years in training and development and education… in the private, public and community sectors… our capacities are substantial. That being said, that can be a slippery slope. Clear branding demands clear focus. In looking at our body of work, we have sharpened our focus by finding the common thread through it all. It has resulted in:
We go beyond behaviour to build character driven, united, resourceful organizations and communities around the globe.
We are not behaviour driven in our work. We do not deliver on tips and techniques; though some incredible behaviours are embedded in what we do. We believe and contend that behaviour results from the practice of character. Unity and resourcefulness start there too. So, our work is singularly focused on exploring, advancing and celebrating a clear articulation and manifestation of character at school, work and community. In other words, we align high character deeds and words. That is our passion, our purpose, and our power.
That is our song.
Being and doing, wholly aligned and consistent, is simple. But it requires work; work on the fundamentals. This is the secret of great artistry and athletics alike. It is the secret of engaged and successful campuses, companies and communities. It is the secret to resilience and strength in times of trial and triumph alike. Character more than matters; it manifests success.
Others are Talking and Walking It
Laurie Beth Jones once wrote (if I recall correctly) that a mission statement should be one sentence, easily understood by a 12 year old and easily memorized by everyone in the organization. I like that. That is simple. Simple works; if you work it. For years, Richard Bolles has delivered on simplicity in career planning… finding your true and clear focus. In many ways, Sir Ken Robinson does too, with his work around The Element.
I am drawn to these messages and these bodies of work for their focus on simplicity. We are best able to be heard when we find our song and sing it. We are best able to serve when we find our service and deliver it; consistently and with excellence. Simplicity is a powerful strength of character that fights the slippery slope of being all things to all. Still, it takes practice. It requires work… in finding our simplicity and then delivering on it. Indeed, in our next post, we will explore some questions to explore simplicity at school, work and community. Simple enough.
Peace, passion and prosperity…
Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™
Yes, our work is all about character. We work hard and joyfully to help build character driven, united and resourceful organizations and communities around the globe. As part of that work, we offer you more posts here or in our LINKEDIN groups at:
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