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Why’s It So Hard to Keep It Simple? (#134)

The Confident Leader

Over lunch a friend asked for an update on our business. I proceeded to fill the whiteboard with our vision and strategic plan. He listened intently. Then, he asked me one question that stopped me dead in my tracks and changed the conversation completely. 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
— Leonardo DaVinci (Italian Renaissance man)

This Week’s Edition


Clarify Your Thinking

Doug asked me, “Robin, if you could only do one thing, what would it be?”  I protested as to why each item was important and everything was needed.

He repeated his question. I paused, then walked to the whiteboard and put my finger on the one thing. He proceeded to say, “Go where the momentum is. Keep it simple.” 

Doug did for me what I do for my clients: ask provocative questions in pursuit of simplicity and clarity. Sometimes the coach needs a coach.

Simplicity creates clarity. For example:

  • Communication: when leaders speak with simplicity, their message is easier to understand. Their ideas are adopted more readily and momentum ensues. 

  • Prioritization: when a leader simplifies their schedule it creates clarity re: the leader’s priorities

  • Strategy: creating simple strategies clarifies the mission and reduces mistakes.

Old Thinking: Why do I feel so scattered and confused? Things seem so complicated. I want to pursue simplicity, but I don’t think we can.  Our business is too complex

New Thinking: I am going to trust that keeping things simple will create clarity even amidst an otherwise complicated business or industry. How do I pursue simplicity? I might need to skill up on that. 

Thoughts Lead to Actions

I’ve discovered three main reasons leaders fail to keep things simple: 

  1. We don’t trust that simple will get the job done. It seems too, well… simple. 

“This is a complicated problem, doesn’t the solution need to be more complex? Are we sure this will get it done? Let’s add some things to ensure we achieve our results?”  

Action: Define what simple means to you and your team.

  1. We don’t stay focused on keeping it simple

We should ask ourselves, “Why are we adding this new thing? How does it help us? Can something else more simple get us the results we want?” 

Action: Define a process to evaluate the process of starting anything new using your definition of simple as a measuring device.

  1. We don’t know how to make it simple

On some level, we are professionally addicted to what we are already doing. Simple takes effort. We may not know how to cutback or eliminate the many current initiatives, and internal forces are working against change. 

Action: Find someone who is a master at keeping things simple. Learn from them.

The world is complicated enough. Leaders, let’s not make it more complicated. Let’s keep it simple.

Boost Your Performance

Watch this week’s video to hear the expanded details of how I found my way from complicated to simple as we changed our thinking and re-engineered our strategic initiatives. 

What’s Your Opinion?

What do you need to do to pursue simple? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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