When you think of the great entrepreneurs through history, there is one name that is almost certainly going to come to mind —Henry Ford.
Ford is thought of by many to be the "father" of the auto industry...but why?
Did he invent the first car?
Did he invent the internal combustion engine?
Did he have the best design or greatest parts in the marketplace?
Ford was relentlessly driven to succeed, but he was far from a genius.
So if he didn't invent the car, the engine, or design the "best" model on the market, why is he so highly regarded today?
Because Ford knew a profound truth — simpler is better than better.
THE POWER OF SIMPLICITY
Ford took one of the most complicated and technologically advanced products of his era and made it simple enough for uneducated workers to manufacture.
His factories provided jobs to thousands of working class people. His assembly line ran so efficiently that Ford pioneered the 8-hour workday. 2
His Model Twas the embodiment of the incredible feats humanity can achieve when we combine the rigor of science, with the innovation of entrepreneurship.
Thanks to Ford, a whole class of people were able to experience a rich, beautiful world beyond the limits of their horizon.
THE ENEMY OF SIMPLICITY
Thanks to the efforts of Henry Ford and the many great minds who followed, today's world is limitless.
Despite all of the problems we face, we are living in an unprecedented time of opportunity for individuals to create their future.
So why doesn't it feel that way?
Because we are overwhelmed by the greatest enemy of simplicity — ambiguity.
Nobody can predict the future. Change is happening faster than ever and is only accelerating. Since there are an infinite number of directions the world can go from here, we are left paralyzed by the equally endless opportunities at our disposal.
To continue with the car analogy, imagine you're about to enter a car race.
You can choose from 10 unique and technologically advanced vehicles, which are all specialized for various roads and conditions (winding roads, muddy roads, flat roads, etc.).
But here's the catch — there's no map!
Everyone starts on a dirt road, but nobody knows what the conditions will be for the majority of the race. So nobody knows which car will prove to be the most useful.
For all you know it's going to be nothing but dirt road for the entire race so you should get a four-wheel-drive.
Unless, of course, it's nothing but flat pavement — then you're going to feel pretty taking four-wheel-drive over the sports car...
With all of these choices and so much unknown, which car do you pick?
This choice is on the mind for many people in my generation.
There are so many great options, but we have no idea which one will even be viable down the road, and we're terrified of picking the wrong one.
If you can relate to this...
The worst decision is not picking the wrong car; it's wasting precious time and resources constantly trying to find a "better" car.
That is why simpler is better than better.
HOW TO FOCUS ON SIMPLICITY
Let me start by saying, I'm no master of simplicity yet.
I still suffer from overconfidence and sometimes lose discipline to stay within my core strength (see my articles on addiction).
However, by using the simple techniques below, I vastly improved — and continue to do so.
1. FIND YOUR HEDGEHOG
Over the last six years, I've had a clear purpose in mind — To discover the intersection of my talent, passion, and value. This article goes into detail on each significant step.
The mere fact of getting closer and closer to this point with each passing day gave me the confidence to stay on the path — even when I hit setbacks and Made poor decisions.
Do the hedgehog exercise yourself. You don't need to know what the connection is yet. You don't need to be fantastic in every area yet. You do, however, need to be authentic in your answers.
2. CHOOSE OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN YOUR 3 CIRCLES
One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing the right opportunity is skipping the hedgehog step and immediately trying to determine the best option.
In an uncertain future, what does "best" really mean?
If you have a general idea of your Hedgehog, best is the option that is as close to the intersection of your three circles as possible.
If you jump immediately into comparing your opportunities, however, your mind will use societal conventions like money, prestige, or "coolness" of the opportunity to judge its value.
While all of these may be valuable, they will distract you from evaluating factors that are more important to you; such as work hours, learning opportunities, and what you want out of life.
With your hedgehog in mind, however, it will be obvious which positions will allow you to combine your passion, talent, and value — while tuning out the distractions.
3. DETERMINE YOUR PHILOSOPHY
In an uncertain, unstable, and unpredictable world, you need a simple idea that will give you strength and stability to push your comfort zone.
If nothing comes to mind right away, try to think back to a challenging time in your life when you found the inner strength to rise to the occasion.
Why did your mindset shift?
What ideas helped you persevere?
How can you put those ideas into a clear guideline for the future?
For example, my philosophy is to confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith.
Confront the brutal factsrepresents my passion for science, discipline, and neverending quest for the truth — even when it's tough to hear.
Never lose faithrepresents my passion for entrepreneurship, perseverance, and unwavering belief in the greatness at the heart of every individual.
Maintaining this simple philosophy has provided the flexibility to adapt to ever-changing circumstances, and the consistency to keep moving forward.
Six years ago I read these words from one of my heroes, Jim Collins:
"In today's world, change is both constant and accelerating. This is neither good nor bad. It just is. Like gravity."
In such a world it is impossible to know which opportunities will be the best down the road. So instead of focusing on "the car," you must focus instead on "the driver."
Find the simple concepts that will work for you and be ready to adapt to a changing world. Because, despite all of the problems we face, we are still living in an unprecedented time of opportunity for individuals to create their future.