Good evening dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. In my last article I advised you I may be having the next 2~3 weeks away on leave, & how I had some misgiving & ongoing frustration(s) with how I see the developments of both society & particularly leadership in many areas. Earlier than expected, just about fully recovered, I have some new enthusiasm for the topic & reminded in all my reading this week about an article I wrote back on Mat 21st this year entitled Simplicity. 1
I would like to sort of follow on with these themes today following my time off over the last 10 days. Everywhere you go these days people appear to be overloaded with, & sometimes paralyzed by choices. Not only is the number increasing, but the speed at which choices are coming at us also is accelerating. We suffer from option overload.2
The average grocery store carries more than thirty thousand products.
Scanning the shelves of any local supermarket, you can apparently find 85 different varieties of crackers… Next to the crackers 285 varieties of biscuits. Among chocolate chip cookies, there were 21 options. Among Goldfish, there were 20 different varieties to choose from. 3
This option overload illustrates the increasing complexity of our world. It begs the question “in a world increasing in speed & complexity, how do we move toward simplicity”?
In article six months back from May, I said; “the first step on the road to simplicity is to get clear about who we are & who we are not. We must do the hard work of finding our identity”.
Accordingly, on reflection I feel one needs to “own” our life. I have to face the fact the life I am living is the result of the decisions I have made. Much of the complexity & clutter existing in my life is because I have allowed them to be there. I know everyone faces circumstances we cannot control, but we have more influence than we are often willing to admit. And even though we cannot control all the circumstances to come into our lives, we can influence how we respond to those circumstances.
I love the words of Henry Cloud, “You are ridiculously in charge of your life.
At least for me, the first step toward simplicity was taking full responsibility. I have to own my stuff & admit when it comes to simplicity I am my own worst enemy. Most of the complexity & clutter is my own doing ~ saying yes to too many requests, not having healthy boundaries, not knowing my limits, & always trying to please everyone contributes to a cluttered life.
I am not the victim, rather the perpetrator.
Once you are clear about your purpose & your identity & what you value, you have to put a firewall around them. And one of the best practices is to learn to say “no”.
Part of our challenge is we want to do it all. We can do almost anything we want, but we just cannot do everything we want.
Every “no” needs to be rooted in a higher “yes”. The higher “yes” is your purpose, your values, your calling & your talents. It is the “must do” of your life. 4
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.” ~ Hans Hofmann
When you get your values clear, decisions get SIMPLE.
Those I have seen getting the most traction in my recent days of reflection, are those which have great clarity, great courage & resolve, & great discipline to execute the plan.
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the weekend ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next weeks, still allowing for some further time out for recuperation & relaxation, hopefully.
2 In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwarz writes about our option overload.
3 Barry Schwarz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (New York: Harper Perennial, 2004), 9.
4 Lance Witt is the author of the book Replenish, which is dedicated to helping leaders live & lead from a healthy soul.