#231 Simplex vs. Complex

How to Make Our Lives an Elegantly Simple Masterpiece

As you may have noticed, I’m a bit obsessed about the etymology of cool words. 😃

I like to open up my Apple dictionary, read the definition and then scroll down to see the ancient roots of a word I find interesting.

One of my big things lately has been “simplicity.”

Quick context: As our business and my life was getting more and more complicated, I stepped back and looked at the big picture—rereading Self-Reliance for the 100th time along with a reread of Essentialism and a review of my Notes on The ONE Thing.

Of course, Emerson tells us to trust ourselves—reminding us that “every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

And, the essence of Essentialism—a great book by Greg McKeown—is that we need to practice the “Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” McKeown tells us that we need to ask ourselves what ONE thing we can be truly excellent at and then he challenges us to discipline ourselves to focus on that—doing less but better.

Specifically, he asks: “If we could be truly excellent at one thing, what would it be?”

Quick check in: What’s your answer to that question?

When I ask myself that question, the answer is astonishingly obvious: Short-form content integrating ancient wisdom, modern science and practical tools. I draw my hedgehog circles and that pops out right at the nexus of what I love to do, what I can be truly great at and what I think the world needs and is willing to pay for.

Then, of course, Gary Keller’s ONE Thing is about PRECISELY that: What’s the ONE thing worthy of you? Go all in.


That’s a long prelude to my recent obsession with the word “simplicity.”

I open my Apple dictionary. Look up “simplicity.” Scroll down to the ancient roots of the word. Here’s what I find:

late Middle English: from Old French simplicite or Latin simplicitas, from simplex (see simplex)


For whatever reason, that just JUMPED out at me.

Simplex. Not COMPLEX. Simplex.

After soaking that in for a moment, I took them up on their offer to “see simplex”—clicking on the hyperlink to see the ancient roots of THAT word:

late 16th century: from Latin, literally ‘single,’ variant of simplus ‘simple.’

Simplex. The root of simplicity. It literally means “single.”

Again, for whatever reason that just hit me.

Simplex vs. Complex.

One thing vs. A ton of things.

So… Today’s +1.

How can you simplify your life a little more today? 😃

In a world that’s constantly yelling at us to pursue E V E R Y T H I N G, it takes something heroic within ourselves to chip away at the unessential and focus on what really matters.

Here’s to making our lives an elegantly simple masterpiece!

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