It's Not That Complicated

Photo by  Denys Nevozhai  on  Unsplash

This post is a bit of a rehash. But that’s ok because the message is important and worth repeating here, and it’s really not complicated.

That’s it. That’s the message. Most things in life are simpler than you think. Only, we’ve been led to believe the opposite, because that suits people who charge us for their expertise. It affirms their status and identity. But when you look closely you’ll learn that the secret to how things work is more a matter of attitude than it is about complex systems. And when it’s a matter of attitude, it’s really a matter of fear – and overcoming it.

Of course, some things are very complicated. Being a brain surgeon is complicated. I wouldn’t want to probe around inside someone’s brain without spending ten years or more figuring out what all that grey mush actually does. But here’s the thing – with enough training, experience and information, I probably could give it a go. You probably could too. Brain surgeons do, every day.

But most things in life aren’t that complicated. Being a banker isn’t that complicated. Being a stock broker isn’t complicated. Being a photographer isn’t complicated. Marketing isn’t complicated. Politics isn’t complicated. It’s about knowing how the mechanics of it all works (which you can learn) and having the confidence to apply it (which comes from either taking baby steps, or taking the plunge).

Life isn’t that complicated.

The thing is, we are lead to believe that these things, and so many other things in life, are much more complicated than they really are. And this keeps us stuck, scratching our heads, wondering why everything is so hard. Why have we been left behind. People like us aren’t capable of doing things like that. Leave it to the experts. They know what they’re doing. This is far too difficult for us.

And this belief traps us in a place where our results reflect our notions of ourself. A place where our identity is directly linked to our inability to deal with the complexity of the world. And seeing as nothing is really that complex, we’re being kept stuck by a fallacy. Imaginary boundaries based on abstract concepts. Like red traffic lights or national borders, there is nothing actually stopping us other than notions and beliefs.

For years I thought that I was missing something. In school I would fail exams because I would overlook the simple answer in search of something much more complicated. In life I missed opportunities because I thought those things were far too complex for someone like me. Job descriptions, contracts, and other quite basic things were best left to the big boys, or the grown-ups, stronger, more capable, cleverer people than me. I wasn’t ready for that stuff – I’d never be ready.

But I was wrong. It wasn’t the complexity that was keeping me stumped, it was my attitude and my belief structure. I was overthinking things, and undermining myself. I didn’t have the confidence to trust myself that the simple answer was the correct answer. If it was too easy, then I must be doing it wrong.

If you think something is too difficult for you to figure out, you’re inevitably going to be right. But if you think you can have a good crack at pretty much anything, then slowly but surely you’ve going to find your limits, step beyond them, and build your confidence as you go. Of course you’ll find that some things are beyond your particular capabilities, but a lot more are within them. And over time, with practice you’ll become more are more capable.

Over time, as I started to actively work on building my self confidence, many of the things that I thought were far too complicated for a simpleton like me revealed themselves to be much simpler than I had imagined. Simple things that at one time or another seemed daunting and intimidating.

You may laugh, but it was quite a varied list. Writing a book. Getting a mortgage. Running a business. Taking control of my money. Speaking in front of people. Fitting a kitchen. Driving a van. Designing a website. Renovating a house. Cutting a hedge. Living in a foreign city. Having ideas. Overcoming self-doubt. Taking ownership of my life. Finding beauty in tiny details. Refusing to accept any circumstance that is presented to me on any other terms than my own. Making decisions. 

Making decisions.

This is a pretty crucial one. When you lack confidence, and feel like you’ve failed at life, even the most basic act of decision making can be nearly impossible. Career moves – no way. Holiday choices – far too complex. Buying a house – don’t even go there. What to have for dinner – stop, it’s just too much.

When you’ve got yourself into a situation where you truly believe that you suck at life, even choosing what to have for dinner seems like an impossible task. What if it’s the wrong choice? What does everyone else want? What will they think of me if I choose the wrong thing? What do they really mean when they ask me if I fancy pasta tonight?

But when you take a brave first step and make that decision, things start to snowball. It doesn’t even need to be the right decision. Tonight I’ll suggest pizza for dinner. Tomorrow let’s get a take away. The day after that I’m going to apply for that job. Next week I’m going to find out about mortgages.

Decision making is empowering, and the more you do of it, the more confident you become, and the more capable you are of doing all those complicated things. And if those things turn out to actually be too complicated, you can find out how to do them, or get a professional in. It’s your decision, and you’re good at those.

When I worked as a delivery driver, during a time when I was at my most disempowered, I met a lot of people even more disempowered than I was. People who couldn’t even bring themselves to leave the house and go to the shops, because it was too much for them. People who lived in squalor, because they believed that’s all they were good for. People who didn’t – and couldn’t – appreciate the power that they had.

People who had nobody to encourage them to try, to take a risk, to figure life out, to understand that it really isn’t that complicated. And sometimes we need reminding of that, of our power and capability. We all need someone to encourage us, to remind us that we’re smarter than we think, more capable than we know, with more potential than we ever imagined. 

The next time you have a dream that you decide not to follow, ask yourself why. Was it because the people around you told you that you weren’t good enough? Was it your own inner voice telling you not to bother because, you know, people like you don’t do things like that? Or was it because something like that is far too complicated?

Well, here’s a spoiler. It really isn’t that complicated. Now what’s stopping you?