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Don’t underestimate simplification

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Don’t underestimate simplification

Scott Miker

One of the keys to being able to improve your systems and habits is to rely on simplification.  By simplifying we can focus our efforts on the essential elements.  We also avoid overcomplicating things and creating unnecessary obstacles.

In Extreme Ownership – How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, authors and former SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin outline a situation while fighting the war in Iraq.  They don’t shy away from their emphasis on simplification.

They give a detailed look at a situation where a new leader creates a complex plan and the authors convince the new leader to simplify the plan.  They explain that the plan was very complex and if they got into trouble it would be difficult to avoid taking on casualties.  As they predicted, the team got into trouble.  But because the plan had been simplified prior to execution, they minimalized the impact when things went wrong. 

They go on to say, “Combat, anything in life, has inherent layers of complexities.  Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success.  When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them.  And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster.  Plans and orders must be communicated in a manner that is simple, clear, and concise.”

But this is important even if we are striving to reach personal goals.  One of the major benefits of this approach is that by focusing on simple, clear, and concise, we are forced to understand the fundamentals of what we are doing.  We can avoid getting caught up in unnecessary details about aspects that don’t really matter and instead keep our sole focus on the important parts. 

There is a quote by Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, which I love.  It says,  “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

Yet, the pharmaceutical industry is a $300 billion industry.  There are certainly great things coming from the medical community but because of the complexities it can be easy for us to ignore the fundamentals of remaining healthy.  Instead we get too caught up in this remedy or that drug. 

From the perspective of our health, we should make sure to simplify and focus on the small, positive habits we can implement that can build into better and better habits.  The medical community is there to help when things go wrong and can be great for preventative medicine, but don’t ignore what you can do to improve your health.

Simplification is an important strategy for improvement.  Because it forces us to eliminate distractions and focus on the fundamentals we can better understand what we can do to improve. 

This helps us establish the right habits and solidify them.  By doing this it may take a longer time to see results, but it will be much easier and much more effective. 

So stay focused on the fundamentals and build from a place of simplification.  Life gets complex on its own but by keeping our focus on simple, systematic improvement we can accomplish our goals and reach a high level of success.