To say that I was an eager first time father would have been a great understatement of the facts. I was excited. Scared. Thrilled. Uncertain. Confident. Expectant (in a somewhat different way than my wife). The main thing I wanted was to be prepared; I’d never been a father before and I didn’t want to screw this up! My solution to the dilemma was research; lots of it. I read everything I could get my hands on, books, articles, magazines, and even a few research papers. I learned a lot. I had facts, figures, theories, and counter-theories. What I didn’t have was the sense that I was any better off in my quest to be prepared for what might be the most important job of my life: daddy.

Maybe there was someone out there who had the key, who knew the secret, if I could only find them. Then it came to me. A neighbor. This was THE guy I needed. He was a psychiatrist and had five wonderful daughters. So I made the pilgrimage to his house one Saturday with notebook in hand.

He patiently listened to my quest story and then was ready to offer his wisdom on the matter. I was ready to take notes. He said, “Just remember LBJ.” My brain’s reaction: “Lyndon Baines Johnson, the president who held his beagles up by their ears for reporters!?” Seeing the look on my face, he continued, “The L is for love, but not just any love, unconditional love. You have to live it, show it and tell it every day.” (I knew that). The B is for boundaries, appropriate boundaries. You have to keep the boundaries in their world appropriate to what they can handle and then don’t ever change the boundaries capriciously. (I knew that, too). And lastly, the J is for joy. Create joy inside the boundaries. Not necessarily happiness but joy.” (Yes, I knew that one as well).

Where’s the magic? The secret sauce? The intricate roadmap that would lead me to the mountain top? That’s all there is? “It’s too simple.” His reply, “Isn’t that the point? It’s not complicated, it’s just not easy.” I haven’t raised five wonderful daughters. I have raised a daughter (who is now married) and a son (in high school) and they are more wonderful than even the five daughters of my friend and neighbor. Not perfect, wonderful. My neighbor was right: simple (three things: unconditional love, appropriate boundaries and joy within the boundaries), yet difficult. You see, these three important and very simple things are disciplines and these disciplines must be adhered to each and every day. That’s hard.

So it is with business.

Most of the time when my phone rings at work it’s someone like me when we were expecting our first born: they want to get it right and are trying hard, probably too hard, to figure out how to improve their business. We always start with what is, along with a few simple and timeless principles and work our way from there toward what could be. They tend to end up with wonderful businesses. Not perfect, wonderful.

In Other Words…

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” -Frédéric Chopin

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” -Albert Einstein

“At all times preach the Gospel…..and if you must, use words.” – St. Francis

“Son, if you want something in life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.” – Homer Simpson

“True simplicity regards God alone; it has its eye fixed upon Him, and is not drawn toward self; and it is as pleased to say humble as great things. All our uneasy feelings and reflections arise from self-love, whatever appearance of piety they may assume. The lack of simplicity inflicts many wounds. Go where we will, if we remain in ourselves, we shall carry everywhere our sins and our distresses. If we would live in peace, we must lose sight of self, and rest in the infinite and unchangeable God.” -Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” -Albert Einstein

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity for the other side of complexity.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” -William Penn

“Nothing is predictable except that today’s successful business will become tomorrow’s white elephant.” – Peter Drucker

In The Word…

“Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them.  Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3

In Linked Words…

David Adamovich, The World’s Fastest Knife Thrower (simple, but not easy)