Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

The Implications of Simplicity


I'll start by saying this: I'm not a "minimalist". That isn't to say I don't respect minimalism, because I do. I have great respect for a well known leader in the minimalism community, Joshua Becker, who was very influential in my younger years. Still, I don't really put myself in that category. I've always been about balance. This being said, I would consider simplicity to be something I greatly value, and I become more and more aware of it's importance for leadership all of the time. In short, simplicity is significant. It matters. It has tremendous implications.

Today, things have a tendency to get complex, don't they? This complexity requires our focus and discipline as leaders to find success. We've got to boil things down and diligently stick to our core concepts, goals, and ideas. Even than, it can still be difficult to dredge through the complexities that our current reality throws at us! Simplicity, than, is the key to our success. Now I'm not referring to  simplicity in the sense of watering down an idea or organization. I'm referring to simplicity as an art. The art of reducing the complex and taking it to just the right place. Like sculpting, it's the art of reduction. Chiseling away at something until you reach the perfect focus, and unleashing your full potential there for maximum impact.

Simplicity matters to our leadership success in an incredibly complex economic environment. While the telephone took 50 years to be adopted into most American homes, e-mail took about 10! That was about 15 years ago, and things are changing at an even more agressive pace today. We are working in a shifting and unstable environment. Leaders need to know the core. They need to be aware with the ability to change and shift in a disciplined manner constantly. Complexity, like a bad chili dog, bogs you down and stunts your ability to react quickly. The implications of simplicity are discipline, focus, momentum, and change readiness.

 Here is what a diverse sampling of others have to say on the subject:

"Understanding the importance of simplicity is critical to your success."
-Mike Myatt, Top CEO Coach and President at N2Growth

"Simplicity liberates. Complexity Kills. Simplify or Die."
-Ali Davies, Business and Life Coach

"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers."
-Colin Powell, Retired 4 Star General US Army

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
-Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist

"The chasm between idea and action is bridged by clarity."
- Julien Smith, Author, Creative, and Consultant

"The task of a leader is to simplify. You should be able to explain where you need to go in two minutes."
- Jeroen Van Der Veer, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell

"The secret of success is constancy of purpose."
-Benjamin Disraeli, 19th Century British Prime Minister

"To stay focused in life... we have to pick between good and a little bit better."
-John Maxwell, Bestselling Author and Leadership Guru

"Do less, and you’ll force yourself to choose between what’s just busywork, and what really matters."
-Leo Babauta, Author and Creator of Zen Habits

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
-Leonardo Da Vinci, Italian Renaissance Painter, Sculptor, Musician, Scientist, Mathematician

"Complexity is the thief of potential."
-Ali Davies, Business and Life Coach

"Success demands singleness of purpose."
-Vince Lombardi, Legendary NFL Football Coach

“If you can’t describe your strategy in twenty minutes, simply and in plain language, you haven’t got a plan. ‘But,’ people may say, ‘I’ve got a complex strategy. It can’t be reduced to a page.’ That’s nonsense. That’s not a complex strategy. It’s a complex thought about the strategy.”
- Larry Bossidy, Author and Chairman of Honeywell International

"Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple."
- C.W. Ceram, Archeologist and Author

"Dr. Albert Einstein and Coach John Wooden share a similar brilliance; specifically, both mastered the complicated art of keeping it simple."
- Steve Jamison, Co-Author of Wooden on Leadership

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."
- Henry David Thoreau, American Poet and Philosopher

"The beauty and power of the research findings is that they can radically simplify our lives while increasing our effectiveness. There is great solace in the simple fact of clarity - about what is vital and what is not."
- Jim Collins, Author and Business Guru

"The simplest ideas are the most powerful."
- Dr. Joseph Murphy, Thought Leader, Writer, Researcher

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."
- Confucius, Ancient Chinese Politician and Philosopher

"The power of simplicity in a vision has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout history. Simplicity ensures that a vision can be remembered by listeners and passed along to others, almost effortlessly."
- James M. Strock, Author and Renowned Leadership Expert

"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million, count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail."
- Henry D. Thoreau, American Poet and Philosopher

What do you think the value of simplicity is? It's implications? How should we pursue simplicity? I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories.

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