Learn deeply then distil to simplicity


This week I was complimented by a reader on sharing some incisive and concise ideas in my daily writing. That is wonderful to hear, as a) I can talk a lot when on a roll (!), and b) I love the Da Vinci adage of: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

The thing is, to get to simplicity in this age of soundbites and short attention spans takes commitment and focus to actually taking time to listen, read, learn from many sources. Only when one commits to deeply studying and learning can one reach what Oliver Wendell Holmes valued (blog post here):

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

An example around one of the most powerful philosophical maxims I have learned (and use in coaching).

A while back I wrote: “A coaching tool from the 13th century“, referencing the concept of Ockham’s Razor, then linking to the work of Kahneman and Tversky and the field of Heuristics. It is the ultimate in simplicity:

“All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one”

So, to learn more about William of Ockham and the origins that sit behind that simplicity on the other side of complexity, let me point you to something.

BBC Sounds has some wonderful archives, including the “In our Time” series hosted and curated by Melvin Bragg. Back in 2007, he hosted a forty -minute discussion on the ideas of William Ockham including Ockham’s Razor. Link here

Well worth a listen, particularly (as I write this) on a wet and miserable Sunday morning in London.

Also published on Medium.