I’m reading two very interesting and completely different books in parallel. One book, Simplify, is about how the best businesses in the world have succeeded through simplifying their companies, products, pricing and other business-related topics. The other book, The Daily Stoic, is about different meditations on wisdom, perseverance and the art of living based on the Stoic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in early 3rd century BC.
As you can easily see, both books are completely different, and in theory, about unrelated subjects and topics. Nevertheless, at some point of reading both books I found a very interesting common message coming from different angles (business and life) around clarity and simplicity.
The stoics said that “clarity brings simplicity” and that the “big three” disciplines in life are perception, action and will. With these disciplines, we should be able to control our perceptions, direct our actions properly and willingly accept what’s outside of our control. That’s all we need to do! It sounds easy when you say it, although not so easy to apply daily, but the effort to remember this concept and try to apply it daily makes total sense.
Both readings triggered a clear concept that I want to focus on and apply in my daily life on a personal and business basis. There is clarity in simplicity. As simple (and as complex) as that.
I see big corporations struggling to simplify their business every single day and startups are suffering from similar problems as well. In both cases, their reality is completely different but the problem is similar: we need to keep it simple and clear. We only need to focus on those things that are under our control and forget about the rest.
I have regular contact with large corporations who wish to invest (time and money) to partner with startups to innovate faster as well as teach entrepreneurial culture inside their organizations. These companies are vast enterprises, many of them public companies with thousands of employees in many different locations, geographies, P&L’s, etc. They are fully aware of the exponential change that their industries and business are experiencing within this new digital economy and are clearly analyzing how and when they could see the “Uber or Airbnb for XX (name your industry)” coming into their world. For these companies, clarity and simplicity is more important than ever to accelerate the speed of change and minimize the cultural resistance to new products and innovation.
Within the startup world the problem is pretty different. These companies are known for being small, agile, fast and (hopefully) lean, but they also struggle to keep it simple and identify their key metrics and goals. They need to focus on their products, marketing messages and pricing in a way that customers can value and understand. They’re also challenged in choosing which battles to fight with limited resources, and usually make the common mistake of doing too many things simultaneously without the financial, management and brand permission bandwidth.
Finally, most of my best friends and even family members face a pretty similar dilemma. We are all super busy, always being confronted with many different urgent decisions, with little time to enjoy life in a simple way. We live in a world that exacerbates these symptoms pushing corporations, startups and people to produce more, faster and better results.
Nevertheless, I think that the Stoics were right. There is clarity in simplicity. Many centuries later, their philosophy and wisdom on the art of life is more relevant than ever. I hope to keep learning from that and apply some of it into my daily decisions, to keep learning and sharing the lessons learned with the people appreciate.
If you think that make sense, I encourage you to think of three or four simple things that you can start doing today in order to bring some clarity and simplicity into your own life and business. Hope it helps- Let us know what’s worked best for you!