The Simple Truth About How To Be More Effective

peoniesHere’s a challenge. It will take one minute- and WILL make a huge difference to your ability to achieve goals and success in what you do. And- it is simple. Up for it?

I was in Saigon last week. My colleague presented to the team an impressive plan for the first few months of 2015 – a plan to improve performance across their business. It was well thought out. Comprehensive. All the right actions were there. About 12 things that needed to be done. The team understood. And were aligned.

Now- at this stage I would normally have said “EBNE- Excellent, But Not Enough.” Instead, I yelled to myself “EBTA- Excellent, But Too Ambitious.” So I challenged the team to do something extremely hard to do: to do LESS. Here’s why.

Simplicity is the highest form of achievement.

It’s as simple as that.

The Saigon plan was great- except it was too extensive: and, it was not ruthlessly prioritized. What I asked my colleagues to do was simply this: “Select three things- just three. The most critical things- that will make the most impact. And put every ounce of effort behind those three things.. make them outstanding… and do that before doing anything else on the list.”

We HAVE to simplify everything we do.

Here’s the point. You can do anything- but not everything. Stop trying to do things better. Instead, do fewer, better things.

Do less- and get more from it. You see, clarity comes from simplicity. Our lives are frittered away with detail and complexity. Complexity creates pressure. STOP. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’, said De Vinci. And, dammit, it is! Simplicity demonstrates remarkable elegance.

How Do You Simplify?

Not easy. Unless you take the greatest step you can take- and that is to learn to let go.

Even with writing, the best writers will tell you they edit, edit again, and keep on editing. If a word can be left out, then delete it. If in doubt, take it out.

Arianna Huffington is a big fan of simplicity. She relieves pressure on herself by selecting projects to drop….things she planned to do, and by not doing them they are creating pressure… well, she drops them off her ‘to do’ list altogether.

Now- I am certainly no poster child for simplicity.

But it’s okay. While I still struggle to DROP things- to let them go, at least I am getting better at RUTHLESSLY PRIORITISING. And by ensuring razor-sharp focus on the ‘right things’ to get done (fewer, better things), that’s a bloody good start.

Challenge For You

What are you going to do to simplify your work and life? Make a start right now. Just sixty seconds of thought.

1. What is hanging over you that is causing some angst that you simply don’t need to do, or have, or aspire for?

2. Can you just drop them off your list altogether?

3. And what are the three most critical things you need to put more, better focus on?

Sixty seconds of thought… ….ready, steady, GO!  Tick tick tick…………………..


Crossing the street in Saigon sure isn’t a simple task!

Crossing the street in Saigon sure isn’t a simple task!


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32 Responses to The Simple Truth About How To Be More Effective

  1. Angus November 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Thank you for this one Chris. I’m going to make sure my team read it.
    You can do anything, but not everything is a good mantra to help maintain focus.

    • Chris Savage November 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Thanks Angus- good luck with it. Chris

  2. Nick November 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    Love it, Chris. Thanks

    • Chris Savage November 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Thanks Nick!

  3. Tony Spencer-Smith November 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    Great piece Chris. And you do well to compare simplicity in planning with simplicity in writing. Like you, I love the word “elegance” in this context. It is a great word, whether referring to planning, writing or proving something in mathematics. Good writers cut out the superfluous and focus on the essential – just like good planners.

    • Chris Savage November 5, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

      Agree Tony – thanks for the thoughts. Hope all going well with you. Chris

  4. Frank Schiraldi November 5, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Hey Chris, an excellent article.

    • Chris Savage November 5, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

      Thanks Frank! Hope you are well and happy. Chris

  5. Karen November 5, 2014 at 8:28 pm #


    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks Karen!

  6. Peter November 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    Great note Chris. I pride myself on simplicity but reading your note has made me refocus & simplify again. cheers.

    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Good luck with it, Peter!

  7. Pete Marston November 5, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    Great timing, Chris, we have our snr management meeting Friday, all about agreeing 2015 business plan and the agenda / list of ideas is as long as my arm – I kept looking at it thinking are we trying to do too much here!!!!

    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Excellent Pete- I am sure it will be a better meeting as a result!

  8. Wendy Novianto November 6, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    Well noted Chris! It helps settle my train of thoughts for these past few weeks that ended up taking lots of my time.

    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Thanks Wendy- sorry to miss you in HCM last week. Hope things are pumping in Jakarta! Chris

  9. Nico November 6, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    Great piece Chris however when hard pressed for prioritisation often time less doesn’t seem to comply with the expectation of our clients out there. What’s your recipe here?

    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Nico- not easy but clients do get it too. They are overwhelmed as much as we are. Helping get clarity, ruthless prioritisation, simplicity- they love that too!

  10. Leonie November 6, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    A useful message Chris – particularly as we start to plan next year. I’ll be taking this post into my next sales team meeting. Thanks.


    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks Leonie- good luck with that meeting. Chris

  11. Ian November 6, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks Chris – really timely advice. I have a few projects right now that I’m going to apply this to!

    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Good luck Ian!

  12. Chris Elkin November 6, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Thank you Chris – It’s was great to have you visit Saigon and get this focus!

    “Clarity comes from simplicity. STOP. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”

    • Chris Savage November 6, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks Chris- go for it!

  13. Erik P. November 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    Love it! 🙂

    • Chris Savage November 7, 2014 at 9:24 am #

      Thanks Erik!

  14. Jaqui November 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Excellent, timely advice, and I spent the 60 seconds. Two of my three things were about finishing existing projects (then I get paid), the third…finding new ones for 2015. Simple really. On to it now…and am passing your post on to a friend.

    • Chris Savage November 7, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      Thanks Jaqui. Good to hear- and thanks! Chris

  15. Yvette November 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Thanks Chris – Always striving to simplify my workload, now I feel better about doing it.

    • Chris Savage November 7, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      Go for it, Yvette!

  16. Jayne Albiston November 10, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Brilliant- just what I needed to hear right now. Thank you Chris!

    • Chris Savage November 12, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Jayne!

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