How Life Design Makes The Complicated Simple
“Making the simple complicated is commonplace;
making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creative.”
— Charles Mingus
When potential personal life coaching clients first approach me, most come with a mix of problems, issues and vaguely conceived results.
Generally, they seek help getting rid of the things they don’t like anddon’t want in their lives, work and relationships. They also express a need to make things happen but often don’t know exactly what those things are—or what they would look and feel like, if they achieved their goal. Most are vague about what they do want. And how to do them.
David, for example, was a young lawyer who’d grown up poor. He decided his life would be great, if he created a “$10,000,000 bank balance.” Then, he told me, and only then, would he feel safe enough to enjoy life. He couldn’t articulate any specific results he’d like to produce with that money. Just that he’d feel secure knowing it was there.
He also shared that he was frightened about failing in his profession, and his inability to “balance” work and family. He was constantly on edge at work, and snappish at home, where he retired to his den to work on getting himself a high paid partnership position.
“Sometimes,” he said, “I get so anxious that I can’t do either well—no matter how hard I try or how much I push myself.”
A Container For Creating
I explained to David that, instead of trying to force results into being, he’d do better to design containers for creating, “possibility spaces” that would up his chances of desired results emerging from his inputs of time, energy, and effort.
I suggested he back up from his big $10,000,000 goal at first. I recommended he think about other things that mattered in his life that he’d love to see exist. The two key results he articulated were mental and emotional health, and physical fitness.
Starting with those less overwhelming goals, David chose to create a year round fitness plan, flexible enough to accommodate his other objectives, and move him toward where he wanted to be, physically. He worked within the life design framework I’d helped him set up. And, with persistence, help from YMCA trainers, and a regular, results-creating practice, he succeeded.
He also chose to create a mood management program that would keep him up, energized and feeling good about himself, in spite of what he described as “almost debilitating complexity and confusion.”
In the process of creating his mood management program, he enrolled in a 10-week YMCA yoga class. He calmed down, felt better, and was able to make better decisions. At the end of the 10 weeks, he enrolled in an ongoing yoga program with a respected instructor who’d studied in India.
As well as attending local shorter yoga retreats, David made several month long trips to India to take part in retreats, getting deeply engaged in the philosophy and practice. Eventually, he spent a sabbatical year in India, mentored by a well-know, respected teacher/practitioner.
When he returned home, he realized his $10,000,000 bank balance goal was not really a goal at all. It had been a solution to his perceived problem of insecurity, and his fear of being poor again.
From Problem Solving To Creating Desired Results
David changed his goal, and his driving vision, to a yoga practice of his own. One at which he made a modest but sufficient living, felt relaxed and at peace, and had time and energy to devote to his family, and community.
It worked. Twelve years later his practice thrives. Family life is fulfilling. He’s thinking about writing a book about the changes he made.
By keeping vision and reality in mind—simultaneously—and working with the creative tension that arises between them, creators such as David set up a dynamic life/work organizing structure—a container for creating real and lasting results.
Such a framework establishes that energizing possibility space in which to explore, experiment, try things, learn from experience, integrate rational and intuitive approaches, and, ultimately, make good choices, and take effective action toward what matters most.
Just as a magnetic field organizes iron filings, the Life Design framework aligns daily choices and actions in support of the results you choose to create.
As a creator, working within such a framework, you remain open to the forces in play.
You embrace surprise and novelty. You create and adjust… You take what emerges from your creating process and shape it into what you want to bring into being.
The Future Can’t Be Predicted
“The future can’t be predicted,” cautioned renowned systems thinker, Donella Meadows, “but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being. Systems can’t be controlled, but they can be designed and redesigned.”
If you think of your life as a complex, self-organizing system, you’ll realize that life design and life creation are far more powerful strategies than is problem solving for reaching for your most important goals and results.
Much of what we call complexity is really confusion and complication arising from trying to “solve” open-ended challenges with simplistic, single-answer, problem solving techniques. $10,000, 000 to keep the slings and arrows at bay. Then what?
Much of our confusion and complication comes from trying to get away from a reality that is seemingly forced upon us, rather than embracing reality as part of our creating process— then working with its energy, and navigating your way to the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
“The best way to predict the future,” said Apple Fellow, David Kay, “is to create it.”
Simplicity And Success Through Focus
The Life Design creating approach makes the complicated simple through focus.
Focus cuts through clutter. It gathers disparate elements into alignment. As with laser light, it generates coherence—and the energy, power, and persistence you need to make your dreams a reality.
By integrating your time, talent, resources and effort in support of clear and compelling visions of a deeply desired results, you greatly simplify the process of creating that result.
Doing so makes things easier to do, more enjoyable. Things that don’t really matter stop acting as a force; the unnecessary falls away; problems dissolve. You’re left with what truly matters—the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
Stretching For The Heights
A year ago, David decided to write the book he’d been thinking about, and hired me as his coach to help him apply the Life Design Framework to that daunting, complex project.
I’ve no doubt he’ll succeed.