Three Simple Rules

Much of what I do for a living is help people do what they know they should do — if only they could get out of their own way.

Making things simpler really isn’t that hard. (Duh. If it was, it wouldn’t be simple, would it?)

What it does take is 1) Passionate care concern for people’s time and attention, as well as attention to detail to back that up (…think Steve Jobs…) and 2) Unwavering devotion that simplicity really matters, and makes a difference (…think Google, or Charles and Ray Eames, or Lego, or Ecko, or Ikea, or, or, or…)

What does that tell you so far? That… Making things simpler is a personal passion, not a technique or a best practice. 

Making things simpler is more a matter the heart than a matter of efficiencies.

With that in mind, here are three simple rules for making things simpler:

1. Act Like a Two Year-Old. Kids of that age ask Why? hundreds of times a day. Their only job (besides being a food processor) is to learn, to figure out how the world works. If you want to make things simpler, go back to being a child with only about 750 days of life experience. 

2. Care. Really, Really Care. The kind of care where you’d go toe-to-toe with your boss, or make a principled-stand in front of several hundred people, or put your job on the line, or go interview customers on your own to find out what they care about, or, or, or. In other words, turn what you learned as a two year-old into a cause. A cause worth swimming upstream for. 

3. Define Success That Matters in Terms of Decades. That could mean your own success. Or it could mean success of your efforts for customers or others. (That success in your career or your products or services will be measured over the long-term.) 

Of course, success in the short-term matters. For Google, for instance, that’s measured in nano-seconds. 

But viewing the successes that REALLY matter as a long-term thing gives you the guts, the drive, the moral-compass, the dedication, to do 1. and 2. day-in, day-out, even when you’re tired, even when you’ve hit a short-term wall, even when you’re the only one carrying the flag. 

Viewing success that matters as a long-term thing is the secret sauce that makes simplicity work.

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