Is there a simple answer to complex problems?

Published 9:56 am Sunday, November 28, 2021

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by Rix Quinn

     Several years ago, my Dad bowed his head during an outdoor funeral. As he did so,  a gravestone caught his eye.

     It showed a name, and birth-and-death dates. But beneath those markings were these three words:

     “He grew peaches.”

     Throughout the service, Dad said could think only this single thought: “Wow…one man’s life summed up in three words.”

     How many of us could define our current busy lives in 1000 words? Or just 500? My guess is…not many.

     Do we compartmentalize famous people? When I say George Washington, is your major thought “First President?” Or if I say Thomas Edison, do you think “Invented the light bulb?”

     Most of us remember only a few things about the famous people. But, strangely, the less we know about each, the longer we remember them.

    Bottom line: No matter how smart we are – or how many degrees we’ve earned – we instinctively look for simple solutions, or techniques to save time and money.

     In short…we all naturally simplifiers.

Inventor of simplicity?

     Around 600 b.c. the Greek slave Aesop began to chronicle fables from around the civilized world. He became so famous his master freed him, and he traveled many places to share stories with both kings and commoners.

     His stories—like the one about the tortoise and the hare—gave animals human qualities. His fables pointed out people’s good and bad traits and illustrated critical life lessons. And many were very short…only a few hundred words.

     And don’t forget Sophocles, another author with no last name. He created plays that usually centered on a single heroic character who—in order to help humankind—chose an unpopular course of action.

     Sophocles introduces us to (1) the popularity of contrarian thinking and (2) the value of building a story around a hero.

     For more details on ways you or your company can simplify problems, e-mail