Ever heard of Occam’s Razor? William of Ockham was a 14th century monk who labored in Latin on matters of logic. His key observation, translated and traveled through the centuries, is called “Occam’s Razor” (obviously spelling mutated over time):
“All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”
What’s this mean for your life?
When you have a problem with someone else: what’s the simplest solution? Would it be… telling Karen, who talks to Alex, who mentions something to Tom, who plays golf with the husband of the person you have a problem with? Will that approach solve your problem, or potentially make it worse? Using Occam’s Razor to cut away the extraneous steps, we find the simplest solution — talking with the person directly to handle the problem.
How do you know when you’re not using the simplest solution? When you find yourself saying, “I can’t”, as in “I can’t find a new job at my age because I’d have to go back to school, and pass that exam, get certified, and probably move to some new city, which would be really hard on John and the kids.” Rather complicated scenario, huh? It’s a solution which — surprise, surprise — successfully keeps you from doing anything at all. Can we discover the simplest solution? Could it be to find a great job that provides training right in your own home town?
Sometimes it seems we love having the problem so very much that we envision only completely unworkable, complicated solutions — just so we can hang on to the problem we say we hate (but actually love). It’s like: “I need a job but don’t want a job but want to revel in what a screw-up I am ‘cuz I’m not getting a job.” How can we love and hate a problem at the same time? It’s called story fondling, and it reinforces negative stuff and keeps us totally and completely stuck in the past.
Identifying the simplest solution is a way to cut through all the debris in your life and find a really good, clean place to be. The simplest solution is always authentic. The simplest solution is easy. The simplest solution is the way to go.
So, when you find yourself tied up in knots trying to find a complicated solution to whatever you face, think of good old William of Ockham and ask yourself: “All other things being equal, what’s the simplest solution?”