Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. – Charles Mingus
If you could write a letter to anyone in the world, who would it be? And how would you feel if they responded?
On an tangential note I’m looking at my new copy of The Go Programming Language written by Alan Donovan and Brian Kernighan. I’d write to one of them.
In the preface, the authors write, “Only through simplicity of design can a system remain stable, secure and coherent as it grows.”
And I think this is a useful lesson for the rest of life as well.
Take your profession, for instance. How simple is the design for your job, for what you do day to day? Do you things that are necessary, that add value or do you spend most of your time trying to sort out problems?
Sorting out problems looks just like work but it’s really a waste product, like heat. If a machine gets hot that is often a sign that it’s inefficient. When you feel under pressure, is the same thing going on
The difficulty for most of us is twofold. First we have to figure out what’s the way to do what we need to do in the simplest and most effective way possible. Then we have to stop other people from making our lives harder.
And this is not easy.
Not because it’s done intentionally but because of entropy. Everything decays. Everything gets worse over time. Whatever is done becomes encrusted with changes that often make things worse.
It’s like having a house or a car or a briefcase – the longer you use these things the more rubbish accumulates in them and the harder it becomes to sort things out.
The way to keep on top of this is to be ruthless – to keep out anything and everything that does not help move you closer to the objective you’ve set yourself.
For example, I want to write better. So I draw simple pictures that help me think more clearly and I use short words to say what I want to say. And I practice that day after day.
It turns out that I still have much work to do. 36% of my sentences are passive and nearly all of them can be improved.
There is tremendous value in simplicity.
Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to do.