There Is No Rule Book

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Simplicity requires discipline

Posted by thereisnorulebook on July 29, 2012

“In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few.”   -Shunryu Suzuki

Have you ever observed someone and noticed that they seem to operate in the world in a fluid way? They seem to enter into interactions with people very easily and effortlessly. When they engage with others, whether it is with people in business, on a team, or with a family, they seem to carry a quiet confidence with them in all of their interactions. It’s clear that these individuals are just not wandering through the great ‘rat race’ of life.

My experiences have lead me to see that simplicity is not something to be taken simply. Those that have a better grasp on simplicity seem to have a laser beam focus around “what matters most” and are able to live their life on a path and make  great choices that appear to  be guided by a dash board that focuses them towards simplicity. It seems to me that those who are experiencing a life full of simplicity have figured some things out. One of the disciplines they seem to be following is that they are the architect of their own future; which allows them to have  choices and make decisions that guide them towards simplicity.

“Other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one.”   -Occam’s razor

To create a life of simplicity requires you to be clear in your own mind about what is valuable to you  individually and to then commit to what you believe is important and let the rest fall away. Each one of us knows someone who chooses a complicated life because they seem to commit to things that are not meaningful to them and this leads to a very complex life.

Vincent Van Gogh- Self portrait with straw hat

Van Gogh painted simply: usually using only 6 colors.

Simplicity is all around us. The discipline of simplicity is always practiced by the Masters. Van Gogh rarely painted with more than six colors on his palette. Ernest Hemingway wrote with a simple fountain pen, much later someone else did the typing for him. Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on a piece of ordinary stationary that he had borrowed from the friend whose house he was staying at. Simplicity is thoughtfulness. If you expect to inspire and impact others at home, at the office, or on a team continue to practice the philosophy of being laconic (meaning using few words; expressing much in few words; concise).

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”   Albert Einstein

Simplicity has a wonderful side benefit. It provides confidence for others we want to inspire to make better decisions and ultimately,  impact their life. Conviction, authenticity, and confidence are best conveyed not through more words, but through fewer. Lincolns Gettysburg Address consists of 267 words. The Bill Of Rights is 660 words. The 10 Commandments takes 163 (And that is in English, in Hebrew its only 77 words).

To be heard and understood requires less words. All good things require discipline and simplicity is not immune to that principle. Give yourself the gift of concentrated effort and discover how this theme will surprisingly bring more meaning and purpose to your life. I bet some of the best lessons you have learned have been the simplest.


3 Responses to “Simplicity requires discipline”

  1. Those are great quotes. I especially like the one by Einstein.

  2. Very inspiring, thanks for the post. It is a great quality to be able to find beauty in simplicity.

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