“If you read the Apple’s first brochure, the headline was ‘Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.’ What we meant by that was that when you first attack a problem it seems really simple because you don’t understand it. Then when you start to really understand it, you come up with these very complicated solutions because it’s really hairy. Most people stop there. But a few people keep burning the midnight oil and finally understand the underlying principles of the problem and come up with an elegantly simple solution for it. But very few people go the distance to get there” — Steve Jobs
The idea of an elegant solution, which means a simple but effective solution, is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Modern life is complicated, but mostly because we make it complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way. Real genius lies in coming up with an elegant solution to anything and everything. Darwin solved the complex issue of speciation with a very simple but brilliant idea.
Besides needing to solve the truly complex with the simple, we have another and maybe even more insidious problem. We tend to take what is already simple and make it complicated.
Your family needs to eat so you decide to go out to dinner. From the drama of getting the family ready and out the door and into the car, to deciding where to go, to deciding what to eat when you get there; most people make the whole thing into a complicated ordeal that drains everyone and makes it less than ideal. What started out simple was made overly complex and unnecessarily so. This same thing happens over and over in most of what we do.
We frantically buzz around arranging our children’s lives to make them “perfect” and all we end up doing is creating a complicated mess that prevents the child from learning how to live through their own experience and growth. All of the drama and effort ends up being for nothing.
There are a few simple principles to successful relationships but we ruin relationships by making them a complex ordeal. Just because you do it all the time, does not mean it is necessary. You are making something basic into something it need not be. Listening to the relationship chatter that goes on around me simply (ha ha) boggles my mind. My wife was watching some retarded TV show the other day that featured a bunch of young people from a reality show having a reunion. The blah blah blah about all of their relationship drama almost made me sick. Even the guys were participating. I had to put my earphones in. This is not unusual though, because I hear it in the real world too and not just in the unreal “real world” of reality TV.
Work in a corporation and you will daily observe the perfected art of making the simple overly complex.
In my own life the other day I had a hissy fit with myself because I was having trouble moving my mouse charger. My cluttered tangle of wires made what should have been the simplest thing in the world into a complicated ordeal. It got my thinking again about simplicity and how it should be an overarching principle of life. My own physical clutter is making the simple complicated, but so is the clutter in my mind and yours. The clutter of features in our gadgets, software, and in the processes we use to do everything is making what should be a simple process of living into an unnecessarily difficult process.
I have no brilliant answers, but maybe my rambling thoughts will get you thinking about it too. I’m going to be concentrating on simplifying again, something I got away from, and if I uncover anything brilliant I’ll let you know.
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