Thank you, Carmine Coyote.
Maybe it's because my name is Gray that I hate people who try and lump the world into simply black and white. Maybe it's more along the lines that I've never found any situation in my life that did not have complex nuances even in the few places where there were straightforward answers (such as, do I raise my kids or let someone else have custody?). Perhaps it's simply because I have a mind that is constantly playing the various solutions to any challenges, analyzing and evaluating and choosing various methods of overcoming whatever challenges were placed in my path.
Pick whatever reason you like, one thing I have never believed, is that life is simple. In fact, my religion of choice, Zen, is pretty much based on the acceptance that life is not simple, and we kind of need to deal with that anyway. That only by accepting that life is just going to be life, and dealing with that, can we hope to end some of the suffering.
So it was with great joy that I read the words of one of the smartest people I've ever come across, Carmine Coyote of Slow Leadership, absolutely rip the KISS principle apart:
"I’ve often wondered precisely what this means. Does it just mean that that it’s foolish to embrace complexity, because people are so stupid you have to make everything simple . . . or they’ll be unable to grasp any of it? Or does it mean that keeping it simple is necessary because you are stupid, so any complexity is bound to be too much for you?"
YES! God, yes! We recently had some consultants come in to present to our Board; I was in the control room, broadcasting the meeting, so they didn't get to hear my choked shock and outrage as I heard them suggest that our district's message needed to be "simplified" not down to a key idea, not a key phrase - but down to a key "word". That's right. One word.
Worse, the suggestion they came up with - and which actually resonated with some of our leadership - was that the word should be (wait for it...)
Yeah. That's right. Every. Every what, you ask? Well, gee, the fact that you have to ask that kind of defeats the whole idea of having a single catchphrase that defines our organization, don't you think?
Carmine goes on to describe what perhaps might be the difficulty with simplicity: it ain't simple.
"There are two principal kinds of simplicity. One is easily produced: take a quick, superficial view, based on some scrappy sound-bite, and ignore anything that might add complexity..."
"The other kind of simplicity is tough, demanding, and may take years to achieve. That comes from long and careful thought, thorough research, and a profound understanding of all the elements involved."
I would argue that this is less actual simplicity and more a quality of grace. It reminds me of a juggler I saw once at a faire. He was an older man, especially for such a demanding job - probably mid 60's. He did a routine bouncing five balls off a board, and the fluidity and conservation of motion made this highly complex task look almost an afterthought.
It was the years of practice, the slow and steady perfection of skills, that made it look "simple". That's the difference between juggling and magic, by the way: jugglers take very difficult things and make them look simple, and magicians take very simple things and make them look hard.
Me, I hope, at some point, to achieve a measure of grace. Because I know, for a fact, that life will never be simple. Neither would I want it to be; as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said, "God is in the details." The wonderfully complex, rich, and intricate details.