Simplicity is something we know is good for us, but we resist it.
We want it, but deny it.
I don’t think there is any one reason for our continuous pursuit of more, but I do think it’s ruining our lives. With a few exceptions, there is little that ‘more’ actually helps with. Nonetheless, we treat it like the answer to all of our problems.
This is as true in leadership as it is in life.
Why Should We Care?
In an effort to pretend like everything is important, we attempt to spread our time over a multitude of seemingly critical matters. Just go to the bookstore, or do a quick search, and you’ll find dozens of books pointing you in hundreds of different directions. While all make strong cases, the validity of each resides with each individual.
Simplicity begins with self-awareness. Without a clear understanding of what we believe, we have no idea what to stand for - making simplicity impossible. We are left, like most, bouncing from fad to fad while never really committing to anything. As a result, we fool ourselves into thinking we’re living a full life. In reality, it’s indifferent.
The culture of most teams follows the same path. We neglect the responsibility as a leader to clearly define what is important in an effort to pretend like everything is important. It’s not.
By identifying what matters the most, we shine a light on what those we are leading should be focused on. We can’t expect to effectively cast a vision, hold others accountable, or drive the mission without articulating the critical.
Just as we need to highlight the important, we also must recognize what should be eliminated. Simplicity results from the combination of these two.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
The cleaning of our team’s culture isn’t easy. We tend to value what our previous teams valued, ideas that are in vogue or popular, and things we’ve read or seen work for others. None of those are innately wrong, but they’re not innately right either. We have to do the work to identify what needs to go and what needs to stay.
It’s fascinating to me, really. Everyone tells their teams basically the same things. Yet, some teams consistently do those things while others don’t. I believe a large part of it is how diluted the message becomes for so many. The willingness to stick to the few, simple anchors is but it’s the only way to truly have a culture. You have to stand for something or you stand for nothing.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.