Simple Is the New Smart: 26 Success Strategies to Build Confidence, Inspire Yourself, and Reach Your Ultimate Potential
Why You Should Read it!
Whether you are at work or at home, you are probably being asked to do more with less. We often become consumed with what doesn’t really matter, and spend far too much of our precious time on what doesn’t even count. In Simple Is the New Smart, Dr. Rob Fazio shows you how to block out the static so you can turn up the volume on the right information and accelerate your path to success.
From the author:
Why is Simple the New Smart?
Twice the gain, half the strain is the foundation for Simple Is the New Smart. Success in work and life will never be easy, but it can be simple. For some reason we make our work and home life more complicated than they need to be. It has something to do with the way our minds work, and we are constantly looking for something to hold on to or to move toward. In my experience as an psychologist, I have always been shocked at how many people need to worry about something or find something that challenges them beyond what they can actually handle. Too often, people get caught up in their own complexity. Clear thinking and concise communication are currency, especially when interacting with intelligent and powerful people.
My point is that if you are intentional and strategic about how you approach your work and life goals, you can get there faster and directly. It takes discipline and the ability to move through disappointment fast so you can move forward faster. We will all fail. If you fail, I want you to fail forward and see a failure as feedback, a moment, not a permanent barrier.
Simple Is the New Smart Standards
Standards set the bar and guide behavior toward a direction. Let me be crystal clear. The following standards will give you freedom within a framework. Use these principles as a guide to empower you to pursue your definition of success.
Where You Put Your Focus First is Where You Will Finish First
Intention is the steering wheel for success. Contrary to popular books or pop psychology blogs, simply stating where you want to go will not get you there. It can certainly help, but you also need focus, prioritization, strategy, and execution. By putting your focus on the right things first, you will be setting the right direction. What I mean by this is that you want to focus on what brings you closest to your success first. It’s about prioritization, not preference. If you want to get in shape, you need to make working out the right way a priority and do that before other things get in the way of distracting you from your goal.
Move In, Move Out, Move Forward
One of the best simple strategies is effectively dealing with feeling. If you run away from it or avoid it, you will pay for it with interest later. If you stay stuck in it, you can’t move forward. The best strategy is to let yourself feel what you feel and then move forward. You can always come back to the feeling. As a matter of fact, I encourage people to face their feelings head on and literally schedule time to confront what they are feeling so they don’t get blindsided. A basic example of this is someone who goes through a breakup that they didn’t want. If you just simply keep busy and avoid it, eventually it will hit you or infiltrate your next relationships. What’s better is have a combination of keeping yourself busy and distracted, as well as carving out some time to deal with and explore what you feel.
I was asked to go on NBC in New York City just after the Newtown, CT shootings. That situation was horrible and sad. One of my key recommendations to people dealing with trauma is to not take the adage “time heals all wounds” at face value. My belief is that it’s not just time that heals wounds; it’s what you do with time that heals wounds. My point here is that there are healthy ways to deal with tough situations and intense feelings. If you challenge yourself to move in (deal with what you feel and honor your experience), move out (allow yourself some distractions and relief), and move forward (continue to grow and focus on the future), you will be more likely to heal in a healthy way and focus on the future while honoring your loss or adversity.
Fit, Fight, or Flight
In the beginning of the book, I mention the work of Dr. Bob Sternberg on Successful Intelligence (Sternberg, 1997). Much of his work, as well as meeting with him, has inspired my thinking through the years. One of the core concepts Dr. Sternberg has written about is a person’s ability to be successful in an environment, or to change the environment, or, if that’s not possible, find a new environment. I believe this has a direct link to working within a culture. I simplify this as fit, fight, or flight. If something is a fit, great, stick with it and go for it. If something isn’t a fit, you need to decide whether you can influence the situation and make the needed change (fight). If not, it may be time to go: time to go to a different role or a different organization (flight). Knowing what is realistic and what you can and can’t do is critical to your success. If you can’t be successful in what you want to be, you need to make a move forward. That move could be to influence change or that move could be to just plain move.
Success isn’t Easy, but it is Simple
The premise of this book is to help you take a direct path toward success through applying simple strategies that work. The best strategies are the ones that you apply. There are a host of claims out there stating that people forget up to 90 percent of what’s exposed to them. However, other people claim that is not true. What I can tell you is that in my work with people, whether it is reviewing with them what we learned a month ago or a year ago, people are busy and they do not internalize and remember things unless they have some key factors. Though I’d like to believe that advisers, coaches, and consultants change the world for the better, the truth for me lies in that there are some key factors that determine whether something sticks and can become a positive habit.
There are three factors I have learned that make a simple strategy effective, sustainable, and most likely to be used in the real world. A strategy that is simple and successful is appetizing, digestible, and memorable. Strategies that people apply need to be something they want (appetite), easy to understand and apply (digestible), and easy to recall (memorable). Throughout this book, I aspire to deliver to you approaches that you want, that you can understand, and that you can remember. That’s my recipe for a simple strategy. The reason I believe it works is that when I talk to people days or years later after a training or coaching engagement, the things they are still leveraging to succeed are the ones that follow this formula. I think of it as what people want in a good meal: something that is appetizing, digestible, and memorable.
I focus on topics that seem either to be a challenge by most or needed by most, hence there is an appetite and a desire to learn. Simple strategies that can be easily understood, recalled, and applied are the ones that matter. I want you to be able to use them in a moment’s notice. The reason I focus on simple strategies is that people are under constant pressure and need to be able to call upon strategies that are simple to remember and simple to apply.
Lead or Deal
If you aren’t willing to lead, then you will have to do the opposite, deal. This doesn’t mean that you always have to be in charge, or be the boss, but it does mean that you need to take action toward your success. When people lead it means they care enough to move toward something, rather than dealing with something. Another creative way to think about this is on my desk every day of my life. Dr. Jim Burke gave me a graduation gift. It was a paperweight, and one that I love to this day. It says, “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes!” Now I’m not suggesting you always need to be the alpha personality, but what I am saying is that we all need to find opportunities to set a direction, or the direction will be set for us.
See it, Say it, Start it
My basic premise for development and learning new skills is taking intentional action. Everyone learns in different ways. I am a visual person who needs to be able to see something to learn something. I recently got married and my wife and I had the “brilliant” idea of taking dance lessons. During the first few weeks, I could not remember a single move. Then I started to bring index cards to the lessons. I needed to find my way to see it, say it, and start it. See it is about creating an image of what I’m learning. I drew and visualized my version of the moves. I created my own graphic that made sense to me. Say it is about being able to communicate what I learned in a concise and simple manner. I changed the names of the dance moves into my own language that I could remember and that made sense to me. Often, I use acronyms, words that rhyme, or words that all start with the same letter. Then comes start it, which is all about action and creating positive habits. This is when I got out of my own way and just tried and applied. I focused on what I knew and what made sense to me. What’s my point? Had I not had a process to learn the dance moves, I would have gotten nowhere and kept getting frustrated. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a terrible dancer, but my wife and I had a blast and nailed our first dance.