simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication

Simplicity is underrated…

Take a look at some of the great success stories of the past decade. Google, Apple, Facebook…all making life simple.

Google redefined search, Apple developed the smartphone and FB took on social media.

Back in the early 90s life was simple.

And then the Internet went and changed all that.

Now me…I can’t get enough of it.

I love being able to turn on Apple TV and watch the latest shows halfway across the world.

I still marvel at being able to send emails to my mother in Thailand or chat with my friend in Ireland when I’m on a train heading to work here in Japan.

I whip out my iPad (for the presentation) and iPhone (to record it) when giving seminars.

However, I worry a little.

Something just doesn’t seem right.

People seem to have no time for anything these days.

Many people are so wired in that should the Internet go down, they’d go through withdraw symptoms.

Online relationships are replacing actual friends.

I also worry that we’re becoming a little too smart for our own good.

It seems that we have forgotten some of the basic laws of life.

With what was going on in Europe last year my friend and I got into a healthy debate over what would happen.

I told him I didn’t see things ending well, and quite quickly I might add.

He didn’t agree, but was quite curious as to how I had come to my conclusion.

I answered him with but a single word.

I guess my answer didn’t satisfy him because for the next hour or so he went on explaining all the intricate details of the European Union.

Very interesting ideas indeed, but nowhere had he addressed what I see as the underlying problem.

Just yesterday I was reading a book by Ayn Rand, “The Fountainhead,” and I came across this lovely quote, “All things are simple when you reduce them to the fundamentals.”

Exactly.

Today I have a feeling that most people are like my friend, making the world more complicated than it needs to be and in doing so we run the risk of greater dangers.

Why do I say that?

I have been running a franchise for going on 12 years now. I have worked as a consultant for a few companies and I have studied my butt off the last few years.

What all that has taught me from a business perspective is that you MUST keep things simple.

Each level of complexity you add increases your risk of running into a big problem somewhere down the line by a factor of 2.

And that’s the problem with the world today.

No one seems to understand it.

We need lawyers to explain the laws. Accountants to organize our taxes. And now politicians and economists (like Ben Bernanke) to fix our economy.

The worst part is that the lawyers, accountants, politicians and economists can’t seem to agree on anything.

Errr, is it just me, but doesn’t that make you worry?

History is filled with stories of great empires, but one thing is clear, all empires fall as well.

Today we seem to think that we can continue our present path forever, because we’re smart enough to get out of any situation.

That’s hubris.

Any time a country, a business or a person believes they can do no wrong, amazingly, something does go wrong.

Apple just a few months ago was being touted as the world’s first trillion dollar company and it was well on it’s way, and then suddenly, BAM…it went on to lose almost half of its value.

Einstein once said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

I’m sure you agree that our world today is bigger, more complex and also more violent.

Unfortunately, I don’t see anyone trying to move in the opposite direction.

It seems that every day I click on over to the news that there are new laws being added, new restrictions, new policies, new taxes, new programs…all with one intention, to make things better.

I don’t know about you, but each time I hear we’ve added a new tax, it makes me cringe.

They say it’s to “help” us, but all I know is that the politicians of the world seem to be doing just fine while so many people seem to be struggling.

There’s something to be said from the simple things in life. In fact, a lot to be said for them.

Trust, love, freedom, happiness, integrity…they’re simple…and they don’t need computer programs or geniuses to figure out.

They are the things that make us human, not blips on a screen.

So the next time someone proposes something that will complicate matters immensely, run…as fast as you can…in the opposite direction.

In today’s complicated world, it’s simplicity that comes out ahead.

Me, I still love my gadgets, but will stick to reading good old-fashioned paperbacks and when my son turns 6, I’m going to have him learn the abacus.

Why you ask? Because though I know the world has changed, I know one inevitable truths — fundamentals won’t.

Adrian Shepherd

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