Uncomplicating the complicated

Column by Michael Norton

Posted

Lately I have found myself in conversations with people about how complicated their lives have become, or how complex situations at work or at home have created a feeling of being uptight or stressed out.

So how do we simplify the complicated?

Well, the first thing we need to do is understand that nothing is ever as difficult or as bad as it seems, and that panic truly is our worst enemy. And we also need to remind ourselves that all will be well.

Situations become more convoluted and problematic when we allow the imagery of the worst-case scenario to worry us and erode our hope or positive outlook. The longer we dwell on the possibility that things will go bad, the more the situation will appear even more complicated.

The second thing we can do is determine what we believe would be the best possible outcome. When we can begin with the end in mind, we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So in the first step we eliminate the negative or pessimistic thoughts and in step two we acknowledge and see the potential best-case scenario. We replace the negative input with positive output.

The third and final tip I can share with you is to do some healthy and creative destruction of the situation. Peel the layers back and pick the problem apart piece by piece. When things become complicated it means that there are many events, moving parts, circumstances, people, or situations coming together to create confusion and maybe even chaos. When we try and attack the entire problem it can seem overwhelming or too much to overcome, so we ignore it hoping that it will go away or fix itself. And our avoidance behavior only compounds an already complicated situation.

So what works better is to dissect the complication into manageable components, compartmentalize the elements causing the difficulties, and develop a plan to address each one. When we take this approach, that light at the end of our tunnel becomes brighter, and with each element or compartment that we sort through and fix, the light gets even brighter, the end of the tunnel closer, and our confidence soars as we prepare to take on the remaining elements.

There is nothing that is so overly complicated that it cannot become uncomplicated by approaching it with a positive, constructive and productive attitude and a solid plan. If we choose to look at the complications in our life as something that is in our control instead out of our control, we will significantly increase our chances of simplifying the chaos and associated burdens of the complication.

Are you facing a complicated situation that may seem overwhelming? I encourage you to practice the tactical approach outlined here in this column and let me know if it helped at gotonorton@gmail.com. When we can uncomplicate the complicated, it will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of www.candogo.com.

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