Recently, I asked a client who was juggling a busy life with a million moving parts what his payoff was. His answer was insightful, “I guess because not many people can handle the level of complexity I face daily.” My next question was what was the COST for this lifestyle? His response was brilliant: “Busy-ness,” at the cost of working toward the things that matter most to him and his long-term vision.
Yes, he was getting his emotional need of accomplishment fulfilled. But at an expensive long-term cost.
My role was to help him begin the process of simplifying everything. To work smarter, not harder, toward what really matters. So we started by identifying the “have to's” in his schedule. It wasn't long that I heard him say, “Hey, this simplifying is hard.”
Yes! It is! Simple make look easy in the dictionary, but in reality what is simple to do is not necessary easy to do. Especially at first. Think about any difficulty you have and picture the solution. Chances are, the answer is not difficult or complicated and it is not the easy thing to do.
Hard to Break Old Habits
Take the concept of losing weight. More whole foods, less processed foods, more exercise, less calories, more sleep, less stress-that should take care of it. Simple, right? Yet we see by USA obesity rates that losing weight must not be easy or more people would do it! Easy is drive-thru on the way home and a movie on the couch after a long day at the computer. Yet in the end, the cost is high, is it not? So, then we swing to the other extreme and read a hundred books on dieting and follow crazy methods and caloric measurements so restrictive and complicated we eventually give up and go back to… easy. We don't stop to consider the simple method. Why? Because it's hard to break old habits. The amount of discipline to do what's simple can be crushing!
Leaders, consider the lack of productivity and the low morale in your work culture. What's the simple answer? Invest in the lives of your people, empower and equip the team, and let go of controlling every detail (in other words, trust!). Oh, but that is not easy, is it, my friends? Instead what do we do? We complicate our processes, procedures, systems, and emails — so we don't have to deal with the humans. We tell ourselves the lie that all this nonsense helps solve the overwhelm.
It's okay to LOL at yourself. I do!
What Is the Reward?
What is the cost you are paying to live a highly complicated, difficult life? How about the cost when the pendulum swings and you give up into the path of least resistance?
What if you could simplify everything? More importantly, what if you could simplify everything for the team you lead, and be able to trust that what needs to get done will get done? What would the reward be now and in the future?
Seriously, what if you did not get your worth from how “busy” and complex your life is, and instead made the choice to intentionally delete everything that does not align with your values?
This is what would happen: You would probably be more fulfilled, more focused, and a heck of a lot more fun to be around!
Lining Up with Your Values
Values help you make better decisions faster. Unfortunately, they are the first thing we compromise in a complicated life!
When our expectation is that life is suppose to be easy, we get off course. The challenge is to not confuse simple living with an easy life. Doing the right thing takes risk, a change of belief systems, and indeed includes some suffering. It takes discipline and vision.
Trained leaders are like trained athletes: they invest in their training. Training takes having a teachable mind and a disciplined nature. The most arrogant leaders I know are not trained well because they think they are Olympians by nature (aka the smartest person in the room.) The truth is, the more talented the athlete, the more they invest in their life to bring out their very best and offer it to the game. They push themselves through trials, which in the end breeds the character required of a leader.
How complicated is your life? How fulfilling is your life? What can you simplify today and what is the reward for you and those you lead? Those you love? Those who matter most?