Time to read: 3 min
Over the last few days, while taking the train home from work, I have pleasantly read through Hellen Keller autobiography. Hellen Keller… What an amazing woman. I wish that she were still alive today. I wonder if she would talk as beautifully as she writes?
A short time after Hellen was born, she went both blind and deaf. Yet throughout her life, she was able to experience the world so vividly, even more vividly than all of us who have all of our senses. She lived until the age of 87. Somehow she was able to describe all things, of nature, people, her feelings and thoughts with a level of clarity and detail that we don’t often see.
After reading her autobiography one of the bigger gems of wisdom that I found was about truth. I found that keeping a ‘simple truth’ is more real to us. And adding an excess amount of detail is exactly that, its just details.
A description of a flower
“It is possible to know a flower, root and stem and all, and all the processes of growth, and yet to have no appreciation of the flower fresh bathed in heaven’s dew.” – Hellen Keller
When imagining a flower in her mind, Helen describes it as ‘A fresh flower bathed in heaven’s dew’. Take a moment to create that image in your mind…
The former (roots, stems and process of growth) is just the detail, the latter is a simple truth. And a simple truth is what stays with us, it’s what we remember and what we immediately understand.
A simple truth
Simple truths have a far wider reach, for both experts and novices alike. The ah hah moments happen when someone is able to strip away all of the complexity and get to the crux of an issue and describe a problem or a goal. Being able to articulate a simple truth works for yourself and in the context of a larger group or business. It’s how businesses state their values, marketing campaigns, and a mission statement. Here is an example:
Before Microsoft began to dominate the software space their mission statement was posed as a question:
‘How do we become the intelligence that drives all computers?”
After which Microsoft owned 90% of the PC market. Being able to communicate a big idea, complex functionality or an ambitious goal into a simple truth is a skill that can have a colossal effect.
What is it really?
A simple truth doesn’t necessarily mean less detail, shortening or making something more compact; it about making something as real and tangible as possible.
Children do this so easily, there words and actions are so in sync with their emotions. When they are sad, they burst out crying, when they don’t get their way they sulk, ask them to describe a tiger and they won’t tell you through words but through their actions.
While crying, sulking and roaring like a lion is not advisable in the workplace. Finding the simple truth about what we see, what we do and the problems we are trying solve has its merit.
Simple truths reach a wider segment of people. They get to the crux of all things, whether they be goals or a problem you are trying to solve and finally they make things tangible enough so other can easily grasp what you are communicating.
Time to read: 2 mins.
After spending the entire weekend alone with my son, I not only realised how much he has changed and grown but how adults are also in a constant state of change and growth.
The habits that a 4 year old adopts are no different to the habits that adults adopt, in that they both change our behaviour and who we are as people.
As parents, we view children as our responsibility. It is our responsibility to set up the right routines, habits and instil morals that we believe are essential for them to succeed in life.
We sometimes battle with our children and diligently try to explain to them the importance of listening, cleaning up after themselves, going to bed on time and other important skills, tasks and rituals that can sometimes seem a little trivial (especially at the age of four).
In our minds, the same battles occur, only they are happening within ourselves. We try to explain why we need to look after our health, work out more often, eat better, complete a particular certification or qualification, get promoted and network more efficiently.
But what happened to our parents? Once we became adults, did they just concede and say ‘well we did all that we could’. Do they assume that we just won’t listen anymore and stop giving advice? Do they assume that we know the world better than they do?
Kids need parenting, once a kid becomes an adult, it is assumed that they can parent themselves and from that point, the parents are no longer responsible…
The question is, are we grown up enough to parent ourselves into being a better human being in the same way that we instruct our kids?
Selecting the right words and techniques to motivate children is a skill. Even more a skill is knowing the right words and techniques to use on ourselves. After a while, it’s easy to see the patterns in behaviour in a child, but we fail to see them in ourselves.
Correcting patterns of behaviour that we see in our kids is sometimes difficult. We sometimes choose to defer taking any action and wait for them to ‘grow up’ so that they are more attentive, are able to concentrate, process more complex information and make better decisions.
Unfortunately, adults don’t have same luxury.
Measures of Success
When we see good or even great kids, a significant factor is parenting. The parents have mastered ‘the skill’ that we discussed earlier.
They have put in enough time with their kids and know the right words to say and which techniques to use. The measure of success is how their kids have turned out.
Correspondingly, when we see good or great success in other adults (or even ourselves), they too have mastered ‘the skill’. Adults who devote enough time to themselves know the right words to say and the technique to use to move them into action.
How they live their lives (all aspects of it) and the legacy they leave behind is a measure of their success.