Finding Simplicity in Complexity


Creating simplicity out of complexity is the essence of leveraging leadership and a non-negotiable ability for the CEO.  Before you can simplify for others, however, you must first do it for yourself.  Start by identifying the fundamental principles that drive your success and review those principles on a daily basis.  For me, those principles are captured in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I have found that both my successes and failures over the years can be directly attributed to how well I practiced those seven habits.  Therefore, I now read Covey’s book for fifteen minutes each morning.  I even listen to it in my car.  I find the only way to truly digest a great book is to read it, listen to it, and break it down into small chunks that I can share with others at work and at home.

An equally important discipline for me is journaling.  Each morning, I spend about twenty minutes (enough time to fill up one page) recording my thoughts.  This has proved invaluable in fleshing out new ideas, identifying priorities, and sorting through challenges.  Those who know me well encourage me to complete it each morning because they know how influential it is on my performance. 

A couple years ago, a good friend of mine developed his own set of simplifying habits and disciplines.  Michael Brennan is the CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM).  His CEO Mastery Success Plan was the foundation for a formal six-month mentoring program he developed for select members of his team.  The Mentor Series consists of a simple 3-step process: 

  1. Attain piercing clarity of your unique ability and strengths.
  2. Define success for your life and criteria by which to measure it. 
  3. Establish a daily discipline of “deliberate practice” to execute your goals.

To read more detail about this CEO Mastery Success Plan and how Mike is using it to develop the future leaders in his organization, read “Finding Simplicity in Complexity” in the 2011 CEO Advantage Journal. 


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