Photo by Brett Jordan

As you’ll know by now with my writing, much of it is happenstance.

That is, there is a lot of time when I have no idea what to write, only to happen upon something that catches my eye. Maybe I’m the magpie of writers? There’s a simplicity about this which is intoxicating. And there’s always a certain amount of faith that an idea will turn up, will happen, and will actually make sense! This week’s blog is a great example of this.

Well, we’ve made it to the end of the first week and I’ve been amazed at how complicated our lives have become in the matter of those few days. Already I’m somewhat yearning for those times, maybe a couple of weeks ago, when all I had to do was get up out of bed, brush my teeth, find my favourite board shorts, slap on a tee shirt and a pair of jandals and head to my next destination; the couch, or the beach, of the back yard …. You get the idea. 

Life was simple. Life was uncomplicated, and I felt much better for it.

Fast forward and here we are in the midst of it all again; the complicated world of our schools. And for all the bustle and excitement and energy that this complicated place brings, there is also a rush, a building pressure and the stress of trying to keep it all afloat.

Just remember you are an amazing group of super-professionals, highly tuned to existing in this complicated environment. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily that good for you. Especially over a long period of time like a term, or semester, or strategic plan timeframe.

You really need to understand, as the super-professional that you are, how to play the long game.

Which brings me back to that word simplicity. At this time of year, you may find yourself with some renewed energy after a holiday break; or you may find yourself with that crushing pressure of “having” to get “everything” done, with all your ducks in a row. Either way you may find yourself persuading yourself; egging yourself on; that it’s time to run with the complicated and take on anything and everything that comes your way. 

This is not sustainable. You can’t do this week in week out and hope to be efficient, or anywhere close to healthy; in mind, spirit and body.

My happenstance moments arrived this morning, just as I was beginning a new round of procrastination. 

All within a short period these arrived. They all encourage simplicity.

Brene Brown – and her excellent book “The Gifts of Imperfection”. I was reading a passage that led to her laying out the question; “What is sufficient?” She unravels it way better than I ever could, but for you and me the key understanding is, be clear about what is really sufficient. This leads naturally to simplifying what you do in your super-professional role. Further on in her book she talks about cultivating calm and stillness. Again, you can’t do this in a complicated world. Think about what is sufficient. Do that.

Email – Mmmm I thought, let’s check my email before I start. Two separate messages were in my email inbox. Both were Stoic based. I find that they help very much in taking a pragmatic approach to stuff (which in turn helps to simplify things):


Epictetus said, “If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters – don’t wish to seem knowledgeable. And if some regard you as important, distrust yourself”

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future” – Seneca

Both quotes scream out to me to keep things simple. Don’t over complicate things by thinking too far ahead or by needing to appear that you know it all. You don’t. And that is just fine.

Facebook – that old chestnut! After my email trawl I found myself complicating my life by taking time, that I didn’t have, to deep dive into my Facebook feed. Normally a big mistake.

But this was here. I found on the DisruptED page a post by educator Derek Weymouth. He was suggesting a good read was to be had in going to Know Your Students. I found his introduction just as enlightening. This is what he said:

As we start the school year it’s easy to become distracted by curriculum reviews, changes in assessment practices, requirements for teacher accreditation or new approaches for teaching literacy and numeracy – all of which are important in our work – but if we take our eyes off the fact that we are primarily about growing, nurturing and supporting the people we work with all of that will be time wasted.”

Again (and I’m not speaking on Derek’s behalf here, this may well be out of context!) this is helping to simplify our understanding about what our schools are essentially all about. And that in turn is sufficient (thanks Brene Brown) and a great direction towards enjoying the present (thanks Seneca).

Finally I looked up at the wall behind my laptop screen. Four letters, three fullstops … as simple as simple can be … K.I.S.S …… Keep it simple, stupid

Interestingly, the word SIMPLIFY turns up in many different places. For example the well known New Zealand Well Being/Mentoring company, The Solution Spring, uses the word in their value statement; “SIMPLIFY TO STRENGTHEN”. They just might be onto something!

Let’s not over complicate anything. It is that,which will get us all through a busy term ahead of us.

As usual David and I would love to hear your thoughts.


1 thought on “Simplify

  1. Paul Johnson says:

    Simplifying things in essence should be simple right? The oxymoron is that we make it hard and then put mental barricades in the way. Love this korero Steve and am in the same space myself. Although tempted, I am not going to tick ‘notify me of new comments via email’ despite wanting too…I feel that complicate an already busy schedule.

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