The beauty of simplicity

I do macro photography in my spare time. In particular, I love photographing flowers really close up. This hobby continually reminds me that the most powerful photos are simple in design, even as I live my life in complexity.

In other words, photography reminds me to distill things down to what is simple.

You also live in a complex world. Your organization, like most, is in love with complexity. The things that start out simple can get more and more layers heaped on them, becoming dense and thick. Your leadership may echo that, with a feeling a being stuck.

Your head often feels like it wants to explode because you can’t cut through the all the stuff to get to core of what is essential in your leadership.

You sense that when you find that core, you will move faster and inspire your team to be more effective. You long for simplicity, but don’t know how to achieve it. It’s beautiful, and you want more of that.

When I work with leaders, much of the work we do is breaking a complex goal or situation down into its most essential parts to find that simplicity. Those parts might be the values the leader holds dear, or the most important people in their life that need their attention.

We might explore what the leader is feeling, being, and doing to get to the essential core that allows them to lead with simplicity. When we can there things become clear and solvable.

We use questions – sometimes supplied by me, and sometimes by the leader. These help them to think, and to dig down into what they need to do to simplify their path ahead.

Questions for simplifying things

When you’re mired in complexity and stuck so hard that you can’t see your way out, find a quiet place and consider your answers to the following (and note that most of them focus on you):

  • What role do I play in the complexity I’m stuck in?
  • What role should I play?
  • What emotions keep me stuck here?
  • What will I feel when I can simplify this?
  • If I were looking down from a balcony on me leading my organization what would I observe?
    • What do I want to see in the future?
  • What is the essential core of me that needs to be surfaced?
    • How can I surface it? How can I enlist others to help?
  • What is most important to me now?
  • Who is most important to me?
  • What have I learned, and what do I do with my answers to these questions?

Complexity can be stressful and confusing. Yet you hold the key to being a catalyst to simplify it. Spend some quiet uninterrupted time thinking (and journaling) your answers to these questions to get unstuck from the complexity that holds you here.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.