Complexity is paradigmatically iniquitous, nocent and peccant.

Simple kicks butt every time.

3″ binders and 6 CDs usually signify a lack of effective content. We desperately want complexity and fancy stuff to solve our business problems. Good luck with that.

We use something like 1-2% of all the features on our software. A fighter pilot would turn off most of his systems going into battle in the Gulf War because the complexity was confusing and dangerous. We love to respond to offers to build giant business plans and three-day workshops on the 57 things you need to implement for a successful marketing program. And we spend months analyzing opportunities to death while other people are moving on them.

We’re addicted to complexity. We can’t help ourselves.

If there is anything less than 6 CDs we’re pretty sure the offer isn’t going to help us. But real-live business tells us something different.

Simple kicks butt every time, but only when you do it. The reason we love complexity is that it allows us to hide from the fact that the things that make us successful are simple acts of intention that will move us forward. Make a phone call, respond to a client, thank a stakeholder (employee), listen, ask a question.

The biggest reason we don’t like simplicity is that the simple things are hard to do. They are simple, but that doesn’t make them easy. Making that phone call is really simple, but I avoid it because it might result in someone not liking me or creating work for me. It’s simple, but hard.

Meanwhile, the complex things are actually easy to do. Developing a fancy excel spreadsheet showing how successful I would be if I every did anything. Research stuff to death before we move on it. Developing a killer website. Conducting focus groups, endless market research, telephone surveys, PR polls, hall tests, online hybrid surveys.

Sure these things were hard for me the first time. But then I learned how to do them and how to avoid actually being effective by doing them a lot. And they became easy. But other people are still impressed by the grasp I have of all this complexity and how much time I spent getting it all figured out. Heck, I’m even impressed with myself.

But complexity almost never tells us what we want to know and rarely makes us successful.

The Few, The Important
In each business there are a very few simple things that will make us successful. We need to strip out all the dumb stuff that we’re reacting to on an every day basis, stop fooling ourselves that we’re being effective, take the bull by the horns, be proactive, and do something simple that will push us forward.

Successful people have a knack for stripping out the complex and focusing on the simple things that will make us successful. Be that guy.

The simple things are hard to do. The complex things are easy to do.

The simple things are where we make money. The complex things are where we hide.

Hang this sign in your office:

Am I hiding right now?

The best route in life is always simple, but rarely easy.