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Simplicity is the Key to Success

What path will you choose?
How complicated are all the things in your life?

Success is easier to achieve with simplicity. In 2006 I wrote an article where I said, The single greatest cause behind an idea failure is complexity. When something is too complicated, people tend to ignore, disregard or simply abandon it.” In today's increasingly complex world, that advice still stands. In fact, billion dollar companies have been built around that very idea.

Remember when Yahoo! was the leading search engine on the internet? At one point during the year 2000, the total value of Yahoo! stock was over 100 Billion dollars. It was the go-to internet company that everyone relied on to find things online. But trouble was brewing for the internet giant. It seems like every time somebody at Yahoo! thought of a new service, they put it online. Meanwhile their core business, providing results for people who did searches, wasn't given much attention.

While Yahoo! was piling on the features, another internet search company appeared. Google had a radical design. Search was literally at the center of the page, and it was the entire focus of what Google provided. Sure Google had other services they offered, but those things were hidden away, so they wouldn't distract people from using the thing that made them successful.


GOOGLE 2003
Google 2003


Look at screen shots of the two services from March of 2003. Google has a nearly empty screen, with a total of 17 things you could click on. Meanwhile Yahoo! is filled with over 230 clickable links. Yahoo! was trying to be everything for everybody, while losing focus on it's primary objective.


Yahoo 2003
Yahoo 2003


Over the next few years, Yahoo! had several ups and downs, before 2016 when Verizon bought it out. The sale price was $4.83 billion dollars. It was worth just a fraction of it's $100 billion dollar value from 16 years before.

Google continued to grow and thrive, but they always maintained a laser like focus on the thing that made them successful, simple search. In fact, the current Google home page now has even FEWER clickable areas than it did in 2003, with just 13. As I write this article in January of 2019, Google has a stock value of $630 billion dollars and they earn billions in profit every year.


GOOGLE 2019
Google 2019


By becoming distracted, Yahoo! experienced something called the Dilution Effect. You start with a specific goal, but then let yourself be led astray by shiny new things. There are only so many hours in a day and you only have a limited amount of attention you can give things. Put too much on your plate and something has to give.

I see people trying to live healthier lives experience this effect every day. They start with a simple goal, but then pile one thing after another on top of that goal. Eventually they lose focus of what they originally intended, and failure is the result.

It's not like people add complexity intentionally. We tend to pile things on in the mistaken belief that more options will make us happier. Spoiler alert, they don't. Try to do too much, and you'll eventually quit in frustration or exhaustion.

To succeed, take two simple steps. Step one, set a goal. Step two, decide what actions you need to achieve that goal. Then keep repeating those actions.

If your goal is to lose weight, then that should be your primary focus. Everything you do should be embraced for it's ability to help you lose weight. You should only add or expand that goal once you've achieved success at it.

New goals should be evaluated regularly, to see if they are helping you, or distracting you from the goals you already set. Adding additional workouts to your gym schedule might seem like a good idea, but if you don't give your body enough time to recover, you're actually causing long-term harm.

Set aside some time and write down your goal. Then keep this saying in mind: Simplicity equals success.

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8/17/2019