For many wonderful new freedoms
Any information in isolation is difficult for us to understand, hence our tendency to compare it to something else — to create an apple to apples or orange to oranges comparison — not necessarily in our favour, but more about that later.
Simple is an exception only in that you’re actually better off without it. Trying to figure out why simple means different things to different people will only wear you out in the long run.
Getting rid of simple allows for many wonderful new freedoms. For these and other reasons as well, there is no wrong time for getting rid of simple and feel a weight off your shoulders.
Now, if my experience is anything to go by, you probably think that is crazy and letting go is difficult, but don’t let that worry you. Sure, your life will be simple-less, but with something that genuinely works filling the void, and if you think that’s good news, you’re probably rearing to go, wondering:
What took me so long?
As a Swiss-born who’s worked half of his adult life in other countries, I have often wondered myself what took me so long to see the obvious. But things have changed and I’d be out of my mind to have it any other way.
Some of the changes in our lives are visible to the naked eye. We grow, buy stuff, have children, successes, and accidents, that type of thing. Equally life-changing, I think are the invisible changes, when the world stops revolving and you’re seeing it as though for the first time. It may happen in a lifetime or in a heartbeat. Time doesn’t seem to be a part of it, and unlike the visible changes that fade away or decay over time, the invisible changes grow like a new-found muscle put to work for you.
There is more to the story of what took me so long, but not to worry, I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty, for it would only distract from getting rid of simple and replacing it with something that works. In a nutshell: The reason it took me so long is I played it safe for so long. For those too young to know what I’m talking about, let me explain what playing it safe meant 20 years ago.
20 years ago, the demand for simplification went through the roof. At the time, in the aftermath of the internet, the world had just moved from wishing for information to drowning in it, “Information Overload” was the new monster in town, and we believed simplification would kill the beast. Being a simplification coach was the safe thing to do, everybody thought so, and I joined in. In high demand, do what you love, travel the world, and get paid for it, what’s not to like?
Well, what’s not to like is we had to finish the job, which took years, before we could realize:
There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker
Simplification, it turns out, had lost the fight before it began. For what’s left of it, it might as well not have happened.
Trying to stop more information than anyone can handle, it seems is rather like trying to stop an erupting volcano’s free-flowing lava and ashes. More information than anyone can handle is easy to say but difficult to measure, but I think the number of words we give ourselves to describe it with, is a good indicator.
“Get over it” is okay for those of us who are used to it, but for the children, it is a different story entirely.
With simplification off the table, what will the children do? If simplification doesn’t work, what will? Well, predictions are famously hard to make, especially about the children. I don’t know why that is, but I think it’s important.
To know one you must know the other
The golden rule of comparisons — “To know one you must know the other” — has always been a challenge. There is nothing new about it. The only change is with artificial intelligence, for all we know, the comparisons here may come from an AI-machine on the backside of the moon. The difference between artificial comparisons and natural comparisons will be as hard to tell as it is now.
The best thing we can do is understand that evil people can take advantage of this trait of human behavior. The setup can be rigged so that a selfish word-master’s audience ends up comparing apples to oranges, or even believes an apple is an orange.
There are many ways to do this. When we’re out shopping, are the prices we see expensive, cheap, or right? Of course, the priority of the conditioned mind is to be right, however, it depends entirely on who set up the comparison, doesn’t it?
Who controlled the context? Was it you, a friend, or someone of low moral standards and some mastery of words?
How do the chicken know?
I cannot imagine “I wish for a complicated life” on children’s wish lists anywhere in the world. Nonetheless, sooner or later, the complicated plays a seriously starring role in everyone’s life. On the upside, later we get to decide which complications exactly and how many.
When I was just a toddler, my mum would take me along for her marketing at the neighborhood store. Maybe also to give my sister some quiet time, I suppose. Anyhoo, a mere 5-minute walk away from home, our cat would follow us as if trained for the purpose, hoping for scraps at the butchers. Recalling the scene brings smiles back every time, but the reason for sharing the story are the chicken and eggs. I just couldn’t figure out how that worked.
Every customer was asked, “The Swiss eggs or the imports, please?” and every customer got exactly what they wanted. One day, curiosity got the upper hand and I asked my mum, “How do the chicken know?”
Despite my mother’s best efforts to explain, all I heard and all that remains is the crowd of people laughing at me looking for a hole in the ground to disappear in, and like other toddlers with similar experiences, or so I concluded, I decided to stop asking my childish questions with adults around.
In many ways, this served me well, for when the time came to pick a career, my fascination for the simple was not only intact, but it was key in the decision to make simplification mine.
One aspect in particular I disliked from the start, namely for simple to even get a seat at the table, somebody had to make something complicated first. While fabulous for business, it seemed assbackwards. Why not simplify where simple begins, before it gets complicated?
The breakthrough came in 2016.
I had seen nature all my life, but I had always taken it for what it’s supposed to be, the natural way. Never before had I thought of it as the simple way. The exact date I don’t remember, but when I realized the extent of the lies told at school, I danced with joy.
In the wordless world, also known as nature, evolution or the wild, simple doesn’t exist for self-evident reasons.
In the wordy world…
…simple appears on the horizon only after words — between the ages of one and six, is how it usually works— not because when we speak, we cease to be natural, but because we must learn how to recognize, read, and write words before we can even begin to understand what that means.
My parents were worried because I began to speak fairly late. They even consulted a doctor. I can’t say how old I was, but surely no less than three.”— Albert Einstein
In the world of our own making, with everything we hear, feel, touch, smell, taste, or see a word, it is difficult for us to imagine life without simple. But the wordless have been simple-less for 4.65 billion years. What if they could talk?
If the wordless had words, too, what would they tell us? Well, with if’s we could put Paris into a bottle for breakfast and save the world for lunch, but that’s of no use here because you don’t get rid of simple with an if.
Before we jump into a new pool, we want the be certain there’s water in it, so when it’s about what the wordless would say, you don’t want to be iffed, you want to be certain.
There exists only one place where you can be certain beyond the shadow of a doubt to find it any time of day and night. Not outside of you, for that is outside of your control.
You made yourself — well, a cell that split itself in two, made you — from scratch, wordlessly, and wordless you’ve arrived. That means you know the wordless world like the inside of your pocket. Sure, it may be some time ago, hence difficult to re-member, however, you are ninety percent wordless (approximately) as we speak.
That is because when you reached the age of words, only your mouth became wordy. The 70% water and 100% cells in you, to name a few, are wordless.
So how can we be certain our cells know what they’re doing? I don’t mean to say I know the answer.
When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.” — Paul Simon
Strange times are these in which we live, when old and young are taught falsehoods in school.” — Plato
But what we know is messages like these will never come from a cell.
The wordless may have been interesting when we were wordless ourselves, but once words showed up…
…we paid our attention to them at the expense of everything else. Some say that’s grotesque while others want you to believe that is the way.
It is what word-users do, they love to use their words, and anyone caught in the middle of it knows there are two options: You can join the debate, or you can use your common knowledge and your common sense.
The debate is still young, but common knowledge and common senses have been around for 4.65 billion years and didn’t stop working when words showed up.
Feel, hear, smell, touch, taste, and sight — collectively known as the common senses— everybody knows them like the inside of their pockets.
What is less commonly talked about is the common knowledge.
What have the wordless known for 4.65 billion years? Maybe because it is so obvious, it sometimes gets inadvertently overlooked that you can bet your future on it.
Lungs breathe, roses don’t dream of being tulips, fish fly, birds dive, rivers return to the sea, fireflies fly to Africa all the way from India, sharks hunt in the dark, cells feed on oxygen, acorns get eaten or become oaks, trees have roots, hands touch faces, and toes hurt when stepped on.
Not one sound fears the silence that extinguishes it.” — John Cage
You can bet your future on it, the wordless don’t do their thing, each their own, because they can or because they have to. The common denominator in all things wordless is each knows what it wants.
Given we’re overwhelmingly wordless, that is not only good news, but it also comes with the certainty of knowing from personal experience, that had you failed to respond to your most pressing want in the past even just once, you wouldn’t be here. If you’re still breathing, you know what I mean.
Know what you want
Do as the wordless do.
#1: Know what you want
#2: The how will show up
#3: Remember #1
In the wordy world, some would have you believe #1 is hard, but nothing could be farther from the truth. You can feel good or bad anytime. People do it every day.
But why trust your feelings? I hear you, they can let us down sometimes.
Sometimes I feel very, very confident and I lose in straight sets.” — Roger Federer
But everything and everybody else can be equally as disappointing, and as if that weren’t enough, you don’t have a choice, because what you pursue and what you avoid is decided not by what you think, but by what you feel.
Everybody wants to get old but nobody wants to be, and while that is going on, everybody also wants to belong, buy stuff, make the world a better place, create the life of their dream, follow their bliss, or any combination thereof.
That makes the complexity of wants a self-fulfilling prophecy and, I think explains why feeling is considered childish, girlish, or in other ways inferior to manly or thinking.
But from the children who dance to music before they know it will later be a word, we know what we pursue and what we avoid is decided by feelings, not by thoughts, and if feelings were to be understood, they’d be called understandings.
I’m not suggesting feelings should be the purpose of life. All I’m saying is give feelings a chance.
The games people play
The wordless wouldn’t know the difference, but in the world of our own making, feelings come in good and bad.
Good feelings can be easily attributed, and bad feelings can be easily blamed on other people or other things. With lawyers on your side, it’s a walk in the park.
We are conditioned to be victims of feelings, to believe our feelings are decided by anything or anyone that can be made responsible. Maybe it’s written in the stars or in a book.
Don’t get involved. It is the conditioned playing the blame game and you’ve got better things to do. Ignore them if you can, but make no mistake about it, they all want the same thing: For you to be just like them.
Many wonderful new freedoms
#1: Know what you want to feel
#2: The how will show up
#3: Remember #1
But let’s conclude getting rid of simple on a practical note!
Practically speaking, be the captain of your soul. Without thinking twice, take full responsibility for what you feel.
When you know what you want, many decisions are already made, such as the end of the blame game. Feeling is a decision you make, not a place you find. Yours day and night, your feeling will guide you from within more than the things you can have, be, or do without.
The rest is technique:
#1: Whenever you wake up, decide what you want to feel when you go to sleep.
#2: Do this for a month.
Twelve months from now? I truly hope you’ll not even recognize how many how’s have shown up.
When time stops and you forget the name of the things you’re looking at, you’re just getting started again. You’ll never get out of this world alive anyway. You might as well trust all you need is inside of you right now, the natural way when what’s preventing it is eliminated. Play with ideas. See the world as though for the first time. Forget perfection. Know that freedom stops where the freedom of others begins, follow your bliss, and be guided by your feelings.
The how’s will show up.
Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” — Rumi