Three Surprising Secrets to Creating Simplicity


Fog rolled in last week in Central Pennsylvania. Warm temperatures collided with cold snow and gray mist blanked our valley. Everything slows in fog. Everything’s more dangerous.

Complexity creates fog; simplicity clears it.

Simplicity produces clarity; clarity enables confidence.

Confidence fuels progress.

Causes of complexity:

  1. Fuzzy purpose. Life is more complex and confusing for those without purpose. Clear purpose informs and emboldens decisions.
  2. Options. Eliminate options to shed light on future paths. Options paralyze. Say, “No,” to a few options and find, “Yes.”
  3. Imagined obstacles. I’ve watched fog roll in while those doing nothing explain why it can’t be done. When exploring options begin explaining why they work. Say, “Yes and…,” instead of, “That won’t work.” Will every option work? Of course not. Explore it before you kill it.

Creating simplicity:

  1. Courageously admit you don’t know. Pretending you know is the worst fog of all. Cowards pretend they know. Courageous leaders say, “Help me understand ….” Say things like, “Tell me more, or, that point seems confusing.”
  2. Move forward. Stalled progress invites thicker fog. In leadership, fog doesn’t clear, you leave it behind by stepping out.
  3. Listen to anger and frustration. Anger won’t show the way but it establishes focal points and illuminates unspoken values. It tells you what’s important. Foggy leaders close their eyes and feel their way around. Anger is a flashlight in the fog. If you aren’t angry about something, you don’t care about much.

The big “P” purpose:

“How was your day?”

“It was great.”


“I got a lot done.”

Big deal! You got a lot done. Did purpose guide doing? You always fail unless purpose guides, regardless of what gets done. Purpose is the answer to:

  1. The real reason your organizations exists.
  2. What you want when you stop listening to everyone else.
  3. What you want others to say about you when you’re gone.
  4. What’s the big deal?

What causes complexity?

How can you create simplicity, today?