I had a college friend who would email a quote to a group of friends each day. She would send quotes from Gandhi, and Buddha, and other historical thinkers. I, honestly, was perturbed that she never sent any scriptures. To me the Bible, God’s word is truly enough. I have nothing against thinkers and historians, or public figures, but I prefer to live by the words of the Lord. Of course, now, I have a quote that I particularly like, and it’s not a scripture. The quote is from Albert Einstein. “Everything must be as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
I’ve thought about putting this quote on my email signature, but I think it can easily be misunderstood. To me this means the work we do must be broken down to its basics. If we share our work and expect others to reap a benefit, we must break information down to its core. This means we must make a basic outline upon which we build. This does not mean that we cut corners or leave out important information, but in order for others to accept and understand our information we must first make it acceptable.
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to present workshops to various groups of people. Generally my topics are abstinence, the writing process, or some aspect of science curriculum, but not always. Quite often, the organizer needs for me to put a particular spin on the topic to fit the theme of the event. Usually, when I am first asked, one of two things happens. My mind either swirls with ideas of things to talk about, related topics, anecdotes, etc. Or nothing comes to mind and I become fearful about the unfamiliar topic, and I worry that I will not be able to fill the time slot. Never yet has it not come together. Rarely do I finish early. I remind myself—keep it simple.
While, I do not outline my books before writing them, I do outline presentations. Since my presentations are generally in the form of a workshop, with lots of audience interaction, the outline is like the trunk of the tree. What are the 3-5 basic points I want to make? How can I make each one memorable? How will I lead our discussion to branch out from these basic points? No tree grows branches first—trees start with the trunk.
In 2012, I was told I would be teaching Chemistry I the following year. The thought of it gave me heart palpitations. To me, Chemistry was so complicated, I would never be able to teach it. Over the summer I decided to read the Chemistry textbook—starting at the author’s preface. Once having that perspective, the book’s goals, and understanding why he had chosen to organize it the way he did, I was set. Chemistry is not as complicated as my teachers made it seem when they taught it to me. I learned things in the first two chapters of that textbook that I didn’t know after having earned 12 hours of college-level Chemistry credits. The semester of teaching Chemistry was a huge success! After looking at the big picture, I was able to make it as simple as possible, but not simpler. The students appreciated the simplicity of the course they initially feared. The complexities came naturally. As a result of students gaining understanding of the basics, the simple concepts, they were curious and wanted to know more. Their questions took our simple study of Chemistry to new heights.
Life is sure to bring on complex situations and troubles to decipher. In our mind, though, as we think and ponder what do, sometimes we can make things worse if we don’t attempt to simplify. It’s okay to write down the different perspectives, to make pro-con lists, to write down what you need to say before you say it. As you go though this coming week, think of ways to simplify.
Have a wonderful week!
Your likes, comments, and shares are greatly appreciated.
Copyright Kimberly Griffith Anderson, 2018
If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.