The Power of Simplicity

October 26, 2016

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The Power of Simplicity

Simplicity. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? I really do believe that when many people approach us about doing a LifePlan, what they are really looking for is simplicity. They want a life that works. They want clear direction and purpose. They want a roadmap that helps them live for that which is most important.

But the irony is that simplicity doesn’t’ always feel simple. In my life I have often longed for greater simplicity, but it has usually felt elusive and just out of reach.

And everywhere I travel and speak, I hear words that are a disguised plea for a simpler life…words like exhaustedoverwhelmedover-scheduled, and stressed. People’s lives feel cluttered, confused and complex…anything but simple.

Maybe you can resonate with the words of Charles Wagner: “Amid the confused restlessness of modern life, our wearied minds dream of simplicity.” It is mind-boggling that he wrote these words in Paris in 1895, before the invention of the car, the airplane, the television, the computer, the internet or social media.

The world is not going to slow down. Technology is not going away; 24/7 access to everything is here to stay. We live in a day of option overload. And because of the speed of life and business, I have more options coming at me and less time to decide on them.

Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach says, “The biggest challenge for everyone living today is how to adjust to a continual increase of complexity in every area of life.”

And I would say it is not just the increase of complexity, but also the increase of speed.

The world is not going to slow down. Technology is not going away; 24/7 access to everything is here to stay. We live in a day of option overload. And because of the speed of life and business, I have more options coming at me and less time to decide on them.

Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach says, “The biggest challenge for everyone living today is how to adjust to a continual increase of complexity in every area of life.”

And I would say it is not just the increase of complexity, but also the increase of speed.

This is why LifePlanning is so critical in this generation. It allows people to step back from the grind of daily life and thoughtfully reflect on who they are and who they want to become. And it provides the space to make clear decisions and craft a plan for their future.

I am convinced that the quality of my one and only life has a lot to do with this issue of simplicity. This topic is about far more than organizing your closet or cleaning out your garage. So, let me share with you 3 steps on the road to simplicity.  And each of these fit beautifully within the LifePlan process.

1.  Own your life

The first step to simplicity is responsibility. I need to “own” my life. I have to face the fact that the life I’m living is the result of the decisions I’ve made. The complexity and clutter are there because I have allowed them to be there. We all have circumstances we don’t control, but we do control how we respond to those circumstances.

I love the words of Henry Cloud, “You are ridiculously in charge of your life”.  Every person I facilitate a LifePlan for is ridiculously in charge of their life.

At least for me, the first step toward simplicity was taking full responsibility. I had to own my stuff and admit that when it comes to simplicity I am my own worst enemy. Most of the complexity and clutter was my own doing—saying yes to too many requests, not having healthy boundaries, not knowing my limits, and always trying to please everyone contributed to a cluttered life.

I was not the victim, I was the perpetrator.

2. Get clear about who you are and who you aren’t

So many voices shape and inform our sense of identity and that can lead to confusion. We start living the life others want us to live rather than the life that flows out of our own values, longings, priorities, gifts, and personality. 

Lack of clarity around who I am and what is truly important to me will lead to complexity and clutter.

All my life I have been a Type-A, driven, ambitious, over-achieving person. It is in my DNA. I am a fairly typical first born. But the script I learned from my family also contributed to my drivenness. The script I learned was…work hard, be responsible, do good, and that’s how you get affirmed and loved.

So, when that’s the script you live by, you are always focused on achieving. You are only as good as your latest accomplishment. At least for me, the end result was a compulsively busy and complicated life.

When I am doing a LifePlan I am always listening for the scripts that inform how people live. This is especially true as we walk through the Turning Points construct. And while these scripts impact us and shape us, we don’t have to be held captive by them. 

One day I was on the phone with a guy whose LifePlan I had done about six months earlier. We were talking about his journey since the LifePlan and then he said  “You know what’s been so great about my LifePlan?  In the past whenever an opportunity would come my way, I would always evaluate the opportunity based on the merits or benefits of the opportunity. But now, after having done my Life Plan, I first run opportunities through the filter of who I am. Does it fit my purpose and my values and my core talents? It has made things so much SIMPLER.”

3.  Identify the higher yes

Once you are clear about your purpose and your identity and what you value, you have to put a firewall around them. And one of the best practices is to learn to say “no”. 

Part of our challenge is that we want to do it all. We can do almost anything we want, but we just can’t do everything we want.

Every “No” needs to be rooted in a higher “Yes”. The higher “yes” is your purpose, your values, your core talents, your replenishment cycle.  It’s the “must do” of your life.

  • Saying no to a sketchy business deal could be rooted in the higher yes of integrity and honesty.
  • Saying no to Jimmy Fallon could be rooted in the higher yes of getting up to exercise the next morning.
  • Saying no to a business dinner could be rooted in the higher yes of being at your kid’s soccer games.
  • Saying no to a requested meeting could be rooted in the higher yes of needing “think time”.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” –Hans Hofmann
When your values get clear, decisions get SIMPLE.

Let me conclude by giving you an equation for simplicity.

Clarity + Courage + Calendar = Simplicity
 
The order is important. 
 
1.  Clarity = what matters to you. 
What are the things you really value? What are the “must do’s” of your life? Again, a LifePlan is a beautiful process for gaining this kind of clarity.
 
2. Courage =  the resolve to make change.
Will you have the guts to move toward simplicity? Will you have for resolve and discipline to recalibrate your life around that which is most important? It takes courage to eliminate the non-essential.
Here are some questions to help you think through changes you might need to make:
  • Where are you over-extended?
  • What are you spending time and energy on that’s not a core value or priority in your life?
  • What are you doing simply because it is an expectation others have put on you?
  • What step could you take that would bring greater simplicity to your life?
  • What do you sense you need to stop doing?

3. Calendar =  the discipline to execute.
This is where your values and priorities get operationalized.
Your calendar is far more than a tool to keep you organized and a way to get to meetings on time. It is a primary tool for helping you become who you want to become.

Your calendar can be a bit like a junk drawer. It can get filled with all sorts of random things that clutter your life.

Those that I have seen get the most traction with their LifePlan are those that have great clarity, great courage and resolve, and great discipline to execute the plan.

Interested in discussing the potential of having your LifePlan Facilitated? Then call/text me at 859-661-5373.

 

Lance Witt has been called a Pastor’s Pastor. He is committed to helping leaders stay healthy and “finish well”. Lance’s experience includes 20+ years as a senior pastor, serving as executive pastor and teaching pastor at Saddleback Church. For years, he has developed training materials that have been used in churches and teams around the world. Lance and his wife, Connie, live in Castle Rock, CO.

This article first appeared on the Paterson Blog Center

 

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