Be brave enough to keep it simple

hanshoffman simplify

Lovely piece of wisdom in that quote.

In all of my work as a sounding board to leaders and to teams, I have never (never!) found an occasion where it was important for them to make things more complicated in order to get their message across, to get alignment, agreement, engagement, energy, enthusiasm, motivation etc.

I’ve written on this site many times away simplicity and will do so again today, but today I will focus on why there is demand for specialists like me to support change.

It comes down to one word. Bravery.

Some people are not brave, some people don’t believe they are (but have untapped and powerful depths of courage awaiting being unleashed), some have bravery by the bucketload and simply need it focussed in the right way.

Let us explore some.

entrepreneur jumps off cliff

Bravery and Entrepreneurs

Let us start with Entrepreneurs. I wrote about this in this post, noting:

A real entrepreneur has no choice. That’s it. Being an entrepreneur and working with entrepreneurs, when I ask people why they started their business, the answer always contains something like: “I couldn’t NOT do it”

In that article, I quoted my inspiring entrepreneurial friend Maeve Gillies:

I have often said “Leap and the net will appear”,

though the net doesn’t always look like a net”.

So, being entrepreneurial is highly linked to bravery. Oh, and entrepreneurial mindset goes way, way beyond starting a business. Leaders in corporate situations who decided to go with the transformational, the radical. Those people must, as Steve Jobs said, be “the crazy ones” those who “think different”.

Bravery and Simplicity

In the last week, I wrote more than once about clients and clients distilling ideas, plans, strategies down to one page. Whether a small business, multi-billion dollar global organisation or a national government, the process is the same and the value always clear, obvious, palpable and tangible.

Those recent posts:

Simplicity on the other side of complexity

Simple, but not easy

Writing these two recent posts reminded me of an older one: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication“, noting once again the work with clients to simplify:

“I write this having this week spent a day with a wonderful large team who spend their days working on complex issues, researching and reporting them. Often they create reports that are many tens of pages long.

I asked them “what would good look like ?” and they said “no more than three of four pages”. I then asked “what would great look like ?” and the answer was “one page”.

That felt like wisdom to me. So, at the end of six hours together, they aligned around a report for themselves from their day of collaboration and discussion. The length of that report? One page.”

Now, it is nine month or so since I wrote those words, and as I write this post I am also preparing for my latest meeting with that client and their team.

They have certainly made progress in that time, yet though they are still very clear on the power of that “one-page” strategy, they are still having a lot of the same conversations about what needs to change.

As I write this, I recognise that the missing piece in this case, and so often, is bravery.

In writing the post yesterday, “simple, but not easy”, I started to talk about the shift in feelings it takes to actually create a space where radical change is possible and can and will happen.

I’ve worked with such opportunities to be brave again and again. This year I put myself in the hands of the masters that are Alison and Matt at AliMat Inc to extract from me my thoughts and distil them to words. They are geniuses at what they do, and when they put words on my #BeMoreYou page (which talks about the attributes of those who choose to work with me) about what I see as Bravery.

These words speak to me. This is what I believe that attribute is all about.

Be Brave.

Bravery means you’re open to being uncomfortable, to stretching, as that’s where the growth lies. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re playing it too safe.

Bravery is a virtuous circle. When you embrace your full potential (discomfort and all). Your vision becomes clearer and your confidence increases, even in the face of uncertainty.

Simplify your vision, your strategy, your plan, your message. Sometimes it feels brave to discard the fifty-page powerpoint deck and all the charts and data, but be brave. Be open, stretch. Be supported through this and feel the virtuous circle as bravery begets more bravery.