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Jan 11

Simplicity: My 2016 Word Of The Year!

Want to laugh? This is my third attempt at writing my Word of the Year announcement article. It’s not the third draft (The first two undertakings actually ended up in the trash). I have been tormented by this composition, which I began to draft in my brain three weeks before this post. I have spent more time developing this article than I’ve spent designing some DRIVEN workshops. And why should you be laughing? It’s the irony of it all, with my word of 2016 being Simplicity. Evidently, describing why is far from simple.

The Roots of Simplicity: Compassion

The word Simplicity is a natural extension of its Word of the Year predecessors. 2014’s WOTY, for instance, was Self-Compassion. I chose that one because I could sense that such a trait was crucial for dealing with the challenges of building my young business. Our inner critics can be ruthless, and mine was downright cruel at the time. I knew I couldn’t endure her bratty assault while trudging through the reliance & grit necessary to steer the company forward. Becoming self-compassionate demanded inner work, and I now manage my critic quite well. Supplementing my approach with meditation has made me more forgiving and empathetic towards myself, and the bonus is I’m not as judgmental or impatient with others as I had been.

Hocus Focus

My 2015 WOTY was Focus. Such an attribute was vital as DRIVEN launched our virtual platform. Being disciplined with my time management (thank you, Laura Vanderkam!), the continuance of my meditation practice (thank you, Tara Brach!), and my success in building meaningful habits into daily life have all assisted me in sharpening my Focus. And I’m proud to announce that it feels good. I have the time to take care of myself, treat myself to the company of family and friends, and deliver most of what is demanded of me by DRIVEN and my other company Goldie’s Table Matters.

The New Challenge

Looking back at the way I tackled these two words, my struggle with Simplicity becomes clearer. At the beginning of each of those years, I’d said to myself, “You’ll never be able to do this”. It’s that exact sentiment that I now carry with me in thinking about how to master Simplicity. But I’m now committed to it, and my first step is to employ a concept that DRIVEN had focused on A LOT last year: A self-perpetuating “muscle” called confidence. I’ll also be attuned to my self-compassion, knowing that at times, fear (confidence’s kryptonite), will stare me down. The goal is that, by the end of 2016, I will be more effective in work and in life because I will practice graceful Simplicity in all I do. In thinking about how to attack this challenge, I’ve decided to acknowledge that there are two areas where I am a champ at tangling things up, attempting to give Oscar-worthy performances instead of being realistic and authentic. The first is in providing value in my services, and the second is in regulating the way I access and utilize the vast sea of digital information available to me. Allow me to put these into perspective.

My Checks & Balances for “Providing Value”

 In the 1990s, one of my missions as a restaurateur was to always strive to provide my guests with “Positively Outrageous Service” (POS). I made it a virtue to not only give my guests what they expected, but to “wow” them with something that was above and beyond. Establishing that as my inclination, I can conduct business in my current career more thoughtfully, simplifying my approach. I am learning to deliver POS to my clients without going overboard, through understanding their personal preferences and by acknowledging that not all of my excellence will be appreciated or taken advantage of. It’s all about finding a balance and determining a time/derived value ratio that will yield the greatest impact before I act.

Similarly, when developing programs, I tend to squeeze too much into one session. To simplify, I must keep myself in check by remembering that a practice isn’t mastered in a day, and that our DRIVEN specialists can’t be as effective if they’re attempting to convey the entirety of the subject in one session. When designing exercises, I can now skin them down to be bare-boned and build from there, focusing on one significant point to bring sharply home. There’s a new comfort in knowing that as our participants learn, they will be able to build upon the basic insights.

And finally, instead of feeling overwhelmed by my own network management, I will tweak my management plan by committing to some new simplifying habits. The focus will be on the full leveraging of fewer relationships, and not getting tangled up in the challenge of differentiating those who are fun to be around from those whose interests are mutually beneficial to DRIVEN’s.

My Checks & Balances for Navigating the Digital Age

Plain and simple: I’m a seeker. I love to learn, and I’m hungry for knowledge. Sometimes I even feel intoxicated as I research a topic for a program….I don’t know when to stop. Step one in my recovery is to be mindful of this and practice the analogous to the adage that one should “stop eating when one is enjoying it the most”. I’ll now actively keep tabs on what the original mission was, and judge if it’s smarter to morph or to reign in my tendencies while the original goals are still relevant and strong.

There’s another old saying that applies to me: “If it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it.” This makes particular sense in regard to new apps and work aids that have been created to make us more efficient. For me, they often just complicate things. I have the tendency to employ too many techniques that sort of mimic each other, and it ends up making extra work. My solution? The old-fashioned one: I will now stop trying to work off of a smart phone calendar when my pocket calendar offers me better dexterity. And come to think of it, sometimes a good-old Word document is just more appropriate for organizing my to-do list than some elaborate, complicated alternative.

I look at it this way: If I’m confident that a system is working for me, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. Since being effective is most important to me, I’ve come to accept that what’s popular doesn’t necessarily make it the right fit. As a dear friend of mine once said, “Stick with the KISS acronym: Keep It Simple, Silly!” Well, wish me luck.

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