Bennis Inc. | Life Is Only As Complicated As We Make It
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Life Is Only As Complicated As We Make It

Life Is Only As Complicated As We Make It

Is your digging making a mountain or a molehill?

Is all that digging making a mountain or a molehill?

We’ve all encountered them – people who seem to take even the most simple task or situation and smother it with complex scenarios and complicating questions. Maybe we are them. Chances are good that these people live with a lot of unnecessary stress and worry as well as spreading this stress and worry to others. How complicated we choose to make things has the power to completely change the experience we get out of life. Personal responsibilities, career goals, organizing and planning even the simplest things can become arduous, overwhelming tasks if we allow these molehills to grow into mountains. But let’s dig a little deeper. How do mountains turn into molehills if not without the help of us shoveling on piles and piles of dirt to grow (and complicate) the situation? Just as much as we hold the tools to make life complicated, we also hold the tools to make it simple. The more we value the simplicity of life, the more likely we are to apply this value toward how we live, work and interact with others.  I want to now outline just a few critical areas in which I feel like so many people choose to make life far more complicated than it needs to be – and with that, pile on stress and frustration unnecessarily. As you read on, I urge you to ask yourself how familiar these scenarios sound to you:

Mountains and mole hills

It’s a common phrase – “Making a mountain out of a molehill” – and though we know it and use it often, it never seems to stick as a life lesson we should learn to apply personally. Simply put, don’t make things more complicated than they need to be! I had a teacher first tell me about the K.I.S. principle or “Keep It Simple.” She didn’t want us to turn in a 10-page report if all the necessary information could be expressed in 3 pages. Our time was not best spent writing this nor was her time best spent grading this. Based on some of the people I encounter in both business and in life, I can tell they did not have a teacher who valued the K.I.S. principle. I fondly refer to them as “over-communicators.” They’re the people who require 2 phone calls and 3 follow-up emails to you before they feel a point has been clearly communicated. Dealing with such communicators is insulting because they don’t feel you’re capable of fully grasping a concept, just because they can’t. Furthermore it’s frustrating because they inevitably take up more of your time and energy than they’re worth. Don’t be an over-communicator and this begins with putting down the shovel and walking away while it’s still a mole hill.

Less complicated doesn’t mean less thoughtful

Believe it or not, the simple answer can be the right answer. I know we’re wired to think that if it’s too simple it must be missing some element or overlooking some critical aspect. I’ve learned this to be very flawed thinking. While some things may be “too good to be true,” I have not had the same experience with things being “too simple to be right.” In fact, the simplest answers are often the best answers, but we only land on these long after we have exhausted our far more complicated options. The most important point I can make here is to simply stop second guessing your judgment or the judgment of others you know to be capable.

Add value without adding complications

Making a situation more complicated does not mean you’re more invested in a project than someone who is trying to keep it simple. As someone who actively seeks out the most simple and straightforward answer, I often feel like sometimes this makes people think I’m looking for the easy way out. While ease can often accompany simplicity, laziness is an entirely separate motivator. The energy I save in handling a situation simply, I reallocate to another area of the project to make it even more exceptional. I don’t “get out” of any work, per se. Instead I invest it back into areas that unexpectedly require more of my time. For those who over-communicate and like to complicate matters as a way to prove their worth to a project, this is easy to identify and even easier to see through. If you’re insecure with the value you’re bringing to the table, don’t compensate by making the job harder for someone else. Both in life and in business, we’re all in this together. We certainly don’t need to start throwing dirt into each other’s piles.

In my final comments, I’ll keep it simple. Embrace that life is only as complicated as we choose to make it. We all have shovels in which we can choose to either pile dirt on our molehills or dig it away from our mountains.

Stephanie Shirley

stephanie@bennisinc.com