Oliver Wendell Holmes is credited with the quote: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” I have also seen the quote with ‘my life’ instead of ‘my right arm’. Either way, he valued simplicity on the other side of complexity far more than simplicity on this side of complexity. What does it all mean? I’m sure it has different meanings to different people.
Here’s my take:
- Simple because you’re ignorant. This is always the first step in any endeavor. You simply don’t know what you don’t know. A task seems easy, because, “How could it be difficult?” But once you get into the subject you realize there is a lot more to it than I previously thought possible. For instance, there is a definite method to mopping a floor correctly, but more on that in the next section…
- I’m Drowning! Once you have jumped into the task, you realize you didn’t really know anything about what you were doing. Back to the mopping analogy:
- First you have to make sure you know about the cleaning agent you are going to use.
- What is the dilution ratio?
- Should it be mixed with hot water or cold water?
- Does it need to dry naturally or does it need to be rinsed after putting it on the floor?
- Clean your mop bucket
- Clean the strainer. Get a new mop head, so you don’t leave any residue from previous uses.
- Dip the mop into the solution 3-4 times to make sure it gets properly coated
- When straining the mop head, use about half pressure, so there is still sufficient solution on the mop.
- Mop in a figure 8 pattern to assure proper coverage
- Sadly, I could go on and on, but I think you get the point- Even mopping the floor has more steps than you probably realize…
- A-Ha! This is the stage where you start to figure it all out. Now, it doesn’t mean you know EVERYTHING, but you know more than the average person. And that is all you really need to know in order to be an expert. You have completed the task or process so many times, it is second nature. Enjoy this phase, but don’t take it for granted… Now you can be an ‘overnight success!’
Of course you know there is no such thing as an overnight success. It can appear to be ‘overnight’, but we all know we had to get through the complexity to get back to simplicity.
What’s your take? Agree? Disagree? Did I miss a step? Comment below…