I love coffee.
Pure black coffee.
Just give me what God created. I don’t need all that fufu stuff.
Living in Seattle though, I feel like I’m in the minority with my coffee preferences. When I walk into my local coffee shop, without fail I regularly hear someone ruin that sweet cup of joe with something like this:
“Yes, I’ll have a Grande Caramel Macchiato, Skim, Extra Shot, Extra-Hot, Extra-Whip, Sugar-Free- Lite Water.”
I think we have a natural tendency to over complicate things. Let me explain. When people ask me what I do for a living, I often find myself always trying to showcase the different characteristics that make me, me.
I’m a designer.
I’m a videographer.
I’m a writer.
I’m a speaker.
I’m a storyteller.
I’m a business owner.
I’m a freelancer.
I’m a comic nerd.
I’m a Cincinnati Bengals fan…okay, we will just stop there with that one.
When I finish with my list, 98% of you reading it will have a glossed look over your eyes. I’ve over complicated who I am and what I do. I’m a lot of things, and I would bet you are, too. While these characteristics and the skills that come with it are invaluable and all are God breathed, the tendency to focus on all of our specific traits leads us to get clouded and overloaded.
Success doesn’t work like that.
You have to choose what to leave out.
When it comes to your hustle, there have to be constraints on yourself.
In Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon tells a story of Dr. Seuss that fits this perfect example.
“The right constraints can lead to your very best work. My favorite example? Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat with only 236 different words, so his editor bet him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss came back and won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.”
It’s not just about the things we choose to focus on that make us, but it’s also the things we decide to leave out. Embrace your limitations. Create constraints. Keep creating.
What Does Scripture Say About Simplifying?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I”ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I love this story because Jesus’ answer is to simply come with Him. There was no three step plan or long explanation why He was the man for the job. Just come. We tend to overcomplicate God. However, God is both simple and complex.
God’s message is simple; humanity needed saving because of sin. God stepped in and offered salvation. Yes, there are more complex issues at hand, but sometimes trying to explain away every detail muddles with the message.
“I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air.” 1 Corinthians 9:26
Paul when writing this statement in 1 Corinthians realizes that to move forward, the focus must be concentrated towards a clear and focused goal. He realizes that aiming broad and hitting the “air” wastes too much energy. When we eliminate all the choices and distractions and focus all our efforts on a particular area, that’s when actual growth will happen.
In the 2000 movie The Patriot, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) teaches his son (played by Heath Ledger) a simple rule of firing a muzzle-loading rifle. “Aim small, miss small.” Meaning if you aim at a man and miss, you miss the man, while if you aim at a button and miss, you still hit the man. The same practice can be said about boxing, and in our case, our hustle.
It’s time to keep things focused and simple. A great way to start doing this is to start thinking in 3’s. It’s simple, and it forces us to prioritize what needs to be at the top of our list. We need to be hustlers who are straightforward because that allows us to simplify our processes.
Here are three questions that can help you simplify your message:
- What are three points we need to know about the story you are telling?
- Can you boil your mission statement into three words?
- What are three things that make the biggest impact for your business? Focus on those.
Here are three ways to simplify your personal life:
- Buffer your time commitments
- I’m the world’s worst at eyeballing my availability. So I’ve started to add 15 minutes to anything I have scheduled to do. If I have a meeting that is planned for an hour, I make sure to block off an hour and 15 minutes. Meetings run long, red lights on the commute to the office are a sure thing, and sometimes you just need some breathing room.
- Establish a routine
- Set up a schedule of a typical day. What does your perfect work day look like? I created one that you can view here.
- Cut out technology
- Scientists believe that constant stimulation of technology undermines our ability to concentrate, think deeply, and be creative. Go outside. Read a book. Exercise.
Today, may you focus on what matters. May you run with a goal and a purpose. May you minimize all the distractions and solely concentrate on the One who matters.