The powerful effect of simplicity on happiness

Apr 27, 2017Padraig's Insights


Sleeping in Your Own Bed Tonight


Sometimes when I’m out running and I’m finding it tough to keep going, I have a trick that I use, and I was reading something very similar in a book the other day.

In the book he was talking about how when you’re trying to accomplish something and you’re working very hard under a lot of pressure, you tend to give up!

What he says to himself is ‘I’ll be sleeping in my own bed tonight’!

What he was doing was reminding himself that this too shall pass and nothing lasts forever.

No matter how uncomfortable or difficult the situation is, it will pass and you will be back in your own bed tonight.

What I do when I’m out running is I remind myself that when I get to a certain point I’ll be turning back and it’ll be an easy trot home. I’ve found this very helpful in persevering, enduring and seeing something through to the end.

Have you a metaphor or a story that you use to give you the courage to keep going and see things through to the end?

Remember, this too shall pass and you will come out the other end of it.

So, you’ll be sleeping in your own bed tonight I hope!


Galvanising a team


I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the story of Alexander the Great’s battle against Darius, the King of Persia in 331BC.

I was reading about it the other day and something struck me. I don’t know how much of this is true and how much is myth, but what is true is that Alexander’s army was significantly outnumbered by Darius’.

Perhaps by as much as 40:1. Experts vary, but he was certainly outnumbered.

The myth says that the night before the battle, Alexander communicated a message from his captains down to all his team.

The message was simple: the following day they would kill Darius. And they succeeded, despite the fact that their army was significantly outnumbered by Darius’.

This idea of a singular focus, of a simple, straightforward mission that everybody can understand has the capacity to galvanise a team into action so that everybody knows what they’re doing and everybody gets excited.

I’ve experienced it just recently in my own company.

We are launching a programme shortly and the whole organisation is focused on promoting the programme; we have been busy communicating it with people, preparing websites, landing pages and promotions pieces, learning about the programme, and so on.

It has been a huge effort and there has been a transformation in the organisation. It’s been remarkable to see how even our meetings are focused and to the point.

It’s very simple, but it’s really interesting to observe it and to see it. We do of course have twenty or thirty things going on but it’s about breaking it down to a singular focus.

So the insight I had is that we have to shape everything we have so that we have a very clear, simple deliverable that we can build out from, and so that the whole team knows what we’re trying to achieve.

Try it out and see what happens. I’ve found it to be really quite amazing.


Less is more


I don’t know if you’re like me where you want to share everything with everybody.

I typically do and as a consequence I often scare them away with all the information. It’s interesting.

I had a meeting with a friend of mine yesterday who’s helping me with my business development.

He came in for a briefing where I was going to walk through what we do in TTI and our DEAP – Discover, Engage, Advance, Perform – model.

I wanted to give him a deep insight (no pun intended) into what the model is and how it works so that he could then communicate it out to potential prospects for me in the area of recruitment.

I sent him our manual in advance of our meeting yesterday. In our initial meeting he said to me ‘remember Padraig, keep it simple’, so when I sent him the manual he didn’t pay attention, but just hit print.

He only paid attention when he realised it was printing page 84 and his printer had run out of paper!

He made a point to me about how clear and simple the model was, but how off-putting the manual was!

He told me that all he could see when he looked at the manual was work. Work in reading it and work in understanding it.

You really have to keep it simple.

The temptation is to share everything with people but we scare them away by giving them too much. It’s much better to give people little pieces of information at a time – to whet their appetite if you wish.

So, keep it simple and don’t scare people away with too much stuff.


KISS: Keep it short and simple


Following on from my last insight, my client shared a mantra they have in his tour guide business: keep everything as short and simple as possible! KISS!

Our default position as human beings is to be lazy.

We always want to make everything as easy as possible.

It struck me that we don’t typically do that in our business. Quite often we actually make things quite complicated for ourselves and other people.

So, do you need to bring this concept of simplicity into your organisation?

How can you make things as simple as absolutely possible for yourselves, but particularly for your clients?

My client swears by the value of keeping things simple and I’m going to try it. It really resonated with me and I hope you like it too.


What is Happiness For You?


I was talking with somebody in the office about the meaning of life when I started telling a story that turned into an insight.

I was driving along once upon a time when I came to a set of traffic lights.

Directly opposite me at the traffic lights there was a van. In the van there was a man and a woman who looked pretty rough.

I was sitting in my sports car and I immediately passed judgement on them.

What’s remarkable is that the moment I did this about twenty kids came from the back of the van and started hugging and kissing them.

It struck me really forcefully.

Here was me sitting in my fancy car on my own and here are these people surrounded by their family. They all seemed very happy.

So, what is happiness? What is it that gives you a long term feeling of contentment – a feeling where your life has meaning and purpose and you know where you’re going with your life?

Are you doing what you want to do with your life? How does one identify what that is?

I believe that this is one of the great philosophical questions that the modern world needs to ask itself.

There’s a huge angst in the world right now.

The vast majority of people don’t actually know what they want out of life.

They don’t know what makes them feel content. I’m talking about this feeling of ‘my life actually makes sense’.

I think that it’s a question we all need to ask ourselves. We have a workbook called ‘The Fox and the Hedgehog’ which is based on Isaiah Berlin’s story and Jim Collins’ book ‘Good to Great’.

The whole idea of this workbook is to help people articulate and get it out of their heads what it is they really want out of life.

How about you? Where do you really add value? What do you enjoy doing and what gives you a sense of contentment?

For example, I get a huge sense of satisfaction out of sharing my thoughts in my Padraig’s Insights video clips and the work we do.

It’s a commercial business but I believe that we’re actually making a difference and a contribution.

We’re helping people and organisations become all they can be, which is really what we’re all about.

Even though we have our ups and downs financially I actually feel that we’re doing something meaningful and it gives me a sense of contentment and the feeling that my life is worthwhile.

I encourage you all to think about this. What does contentment or happiness mean to you? Can you define it and can you do something about it?

If anybody wants a copy of the workbook, email us! I’ll send it to you for free.


Final thoughts…


I truly believe that one of the keys to happiness is simplicity. Simplicity in our daily work, our messages and our singular focus for what brings meaning to our lives.

When things are tough, try reminding yourself that you will be sleeping in your own bed tonight. No matter what lies ahead for the day, the idea of your own comfortable bed can get you through the day.

Just like the success of Alexander the Great’s army, successful teams keep things short and simple. Having a clear, succinct objective can work wonders for galvanising a team.

And finally, what is happiness for you? Do you need to explore more about what makes you truly happy? Where do you add value and what makes you content?

Think about these things. As always, if anybody has any feedback or thoughts on the points above, feel free to get in touch.

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