Everything is simple. Complication is a choice.

“It’s complicated.” is the biggest bullshit excuse. But more so than a load of crap, those three little words are toxic. They have the power to  lead our minds into a rabbit hole of inevitables. Once our brains go down that path, it’s over. We sit, ponder and get stuck in our heads: “What if  ____” or “Should have ____” and “Could have ____”.

I know. I’ve been there. We all have.

Some of you may still be there but don’t get caught in the downwards spiral. There is always a solution – we just need the courage to face the solution. Sure, it is easier to say: “It’s complicated.” and push our realities away. But take a step back, breathe and think of ways to change whatever is causing your pain.

Am I making this sound too easy? Well, it is. Everything in life is really simple. We are the ones who choose to make things complicated. Things don’t change. People don’t change. The only thing we can change, is ourselves. And by changing ourselves, we become a solution and while we work towards solving the problem, things change. We change. It’s really that simple.

These are lessons I picked up along the way, but a dying parent had the most significant impact. My mother passed away from cancer in 2006. There is no solution to a dying parent – especially when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. What I did do and still do on a daily is tell myself how grateful I should be that with my mother’s death, she left behind wisdom that takes people a life time to learn: life is too short.

So change yourself. Your situation. Do something. Change something. We only have one life.

Where there is a will, there is always a way. Look at Alan Turing who spent his lifetime to prove all problems can be solved. But even after all of his accomplishments, Turing’s legacy (at least to me) is: given the right approach and with time, there is always an answer.

We are not genius mathematicians like Turing but we are humans just like him. Take the lessens he left behind. Don’t waste precious time. Train the brain to approach things head-on and as soon as you empower yourself with the comfort of knowing that everything will work out and things do get better, you will find the courage to simplify yourself and your life.

Here’s a challenge. The next time you find yourself in your head, try thinking as Bill Gates does:

  1. Prioritize
  2. Ask smarter questions
  3. Make data-driven decisions
  4. Divorce your ego
  5. Frame the problem
  6. Get perspective on the problem
  7. Model the problem
  8. Think of the system and the ecosystem
  9. Think of the problem over time
  10. Think strategically

With that, I leave you with words from the great Steve Jobs, who keeps me practicing what I preach:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.

2 thoughts on “Everything is simple. Complication is a choice.

  1. I enjoyed this so much, I emailed my team tonight and asked that they read it. It’s something that even the glass-half-fullest of the just-do-it’s in the world need to hear and be kicked in the butt reminded. I really enjoy your penmanship Mona. Seriously. Thanks for calling me out — I needed my pixels to be reset.

  2. I’ve always loved how successful businesspeople think! The Steve Jobs quote is undoubtedly based on his understanding of Hagakure, Book of the Samurai. In the book a character called Ikumo Oribe says, “If a retainer will just think about what he is to do for the day at hand, he will be able to do anything. If it is a single day’s work, one should be able to put up with it. Tomorrow, too, is but a single day.” One of my other favourite lines is, “Every morning make up your mind to die. Every evening freshen your mind with the thought of death”. The whole book has a rather eloquent way of thinking positively about death :)

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