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What Resonated This Week: Keeping It Simple

March 12, 2016

This is the twelve installment of "What Resonated This Week," where I share my observations around a common theme or topic that made an impact on me, and hopefully will be a catalyst for conversation and further discussion.

For the last few months, I've published posts about what's resonated with me. Connecting the dots was the initial theme, followed by the idea that you need to customize your message and be mindful of your audience. After that, I wrote about finding the courage to ask for help and the power of "Coffee Talk" and connecting in person. Recent posts were on the hidden benefits of road trips, notes written on Post-its®, and customer service. I then wrote about bananas, nuts, and stories that suck as well as triggers. Last month I thanked and introduced my BFAM (brother from another mother) and LinkedIn Family, those special folks we've never met but with whom we feel a certain kinship and ease. And a few weeks ago I wrote about timing, and the lessons learned from TV Powww.

This week it's all about keeping it simple.


Have you ever felt like the universe was trying to tell you something?

This week I've been inundated with messages calling for simplicity — in business, in communication — in nearly every aspect of life. And these reminders are exactly the reason why I started this series of posts on what's resonated with me.

The K.I.S.S. Method

Years ago, it was my Dad who first introduced me to the K.I.S.S. method. At the time, I was struggling with a homework assignment, searching for the perfect way to phrase something in a persuasive essay.

For those unfamiliar, K.I.S.S. is an acronym for "Keep it simple, stupid." It originated as a design principle by the U.S. Navy in 1960 and states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Simplicity should be a goal and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

My Dad's advice was to skip the flowery language and just cut to the heart of the issue, and use simple language to make my point—keep it simple. (Note: he never called me "stupid," but explained that the "stupid" part of the acronym was there to remind anyone that it might be unwise not to follow that advice.)

Over the years, especially after I entered the workforce, I recalled this encounter and offered similar counsel to friends, family members, and colleagues.

And this week, many instances of the K.I.S.S. principle caught my attention:

In his post, Wherever You Go, There You Are, Bruce Kasanoff discusses why now is better than then when summing up how to address central issues in your life. In fact, that simple takeaway message — Now is better than then — made its way onto my white board to serve as a daily reminder.

Want to be über charismatic?  There's a simple fix for that, too. Jessica Stillman of Inc. advises giving people your full attention in her article, This Charisma-Boosting Tip Is So Basic, Yet So Ignored.

In his tell-it-like-it-is post, Are You on Somebody's Short List?, Michael Katz implores us to "stop trying to impress the people we meet with fancy-pants phrases that shine brightly for a minute and then evaporate." Instead, if you'd like to be top-of-mind for your skill set and experience, "just help others understand and remember what you do." Again, keep it simple.

Having trouble finding your writing voice? Zach Messler shares a great (and simple) how-to exercise on doing just that in his article, Find your distinct voice. Here's how I did it. (Bonus: you'll actually get to hear his speaking voice.)

Justin Bariso offers us a deceptively simple, yet effective, way to stave off potential disasters by using our pause button in This 1 Practice Will Dramatically Increase Your Emotional Intelligence.

And no need for fancy laptops and cutting edge technology when searching for the optimal retention method.  As Dan Pink explains in his Pinkcast #3 - How To Take Notes More Effectively (spoiler alert: by hand), sometimes simple is best.

This week I even provided fodder for the K.I.S.S. principle when a head-shaking moment during the recruiting process drove me to write and publish The Alarmingly Simple Reasons Why You're Not Getting an Interview.

So why does it have to be so hard?

It doesn't.

Life's complicated enough as it is. If only for one day, try to remember to keep it simple.

 

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