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.