The K.I.S.S. Principle

kissby David Bohl

K.I.S.S. stands for a couple things. Firstly and most notably, it means “keep it simple, stupid”.

While the “stupid” line may seem a little harsh, it adds humor to the saying, and probably is responsible for the saying’s notoriety.

K.I.S.S. can also stand for “keep it short and simple”. This is similar to the principle of Occam’s razor which states that the simplest explanation is usually the best one.

Whichever interpretetation you like, the K.I.S.S. principle is worth pondering. There is a brilliance and a perfection to be found in simplicity.

Here are a few rules to live by that relate to the K.I.S.S. principle. Following them will simplify your life at work, and at home, and ultimately earn you a reputation that you will be proud of.

Be honest.

Honesty, as they say, is the best policy. But why is that? Isn’t it true that a well placed white lie can get you out of a jam? Have you ever heard of a “business lie”?

It is true that a fib told here and there can be helpful – but only in the immediate sense. Consider the consequences. While a lie can be useful to you today, it will ultimately earn you a reputation of someone who can not be trusted. Even a co-worker, who was complicit in your lie, will have a lower opinion of you.

Deceit, in the long run, will not help you further your purposes. Your reputation will eventually catch up to you, and you will not be trusted by your co-workers, direct reports, or your family and friends. It isn’t worth it.

Another reason to stick to the truth is that eventually your own web of lies can turn on you. The more lies you tell, the more you must keep track of what you said to who, and when. Pretty soon, you’ll get it wrong and then guess what? You’re busted!

The simplest course is the right one – always tell the truth. While you may not always have “the right answer” in a given situation, you will be much better off overall.

Always give your best effort.

Give your maximum effort to those who expect it of you. Your employer, your family, and your friends deserve your best work. Not only do they deserve it, but in the end it will be easier on you. I’ll explain.

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time slacking off, you’re probably spending as much time covering your tracks. You’re deleting cookies from your non work related web surfing. Your having to lie about where you were all day. It’s stressful and time consuming to carry on like this.

When you try hard every day, you will feel better about yourself. You’ll have the confidence that comes with knowing you have done everything in your power to get the job done. More importantly, though, you’ll have the self-respect that comes with putting in a good, honest days work.

Don’t over-complicate.

This is the “keep it short and simple” principle. I have an example for this one:

One day I was exiting the Motor Vehicle office because I wanted to get more information about the insurance from, and I came across a hot dog man. I was hungry, so I made a bee line for the cart, and ordered two.

This was at a time in my life where I was a manager of a location for a large company. The culture of that company was changing. We were getting increasingly bogged down with reports, and having to learn new, complicated systems to accomplish the smallest task. We found ourselves spending all day on these reports, and having no time to actually conduct business. It was all very frustrating and draining.

And then there was the hot dog guy.

I remember looking at him, and thinking, “brilliant!” Here is a guy who has figured something out. His business plan looks a little something like this:

• Cook Hot Dogs.
• Sell Hot Dogs.
• Count Money.

Also, he always had lunch covered. Bonus.

My point is that the hot dog guy was keeping it simple. He was smiling, and enjoying his work. The K.I.S.S. method was working for him – deliciously.

I’m not suggesting that we can all adopt as simple a business model as the hot dog guy did, but there is a lesson to be taken from him. We must keep things simple, whenever possible, and avoid overcomplicating our business, and our lives.

However you interpret the K.I.S.S. principle – if you follow it chances are you’ll be more effective, and much happier. You’ll spend less time defending your actions and maintaining your web of deceit. You’ll have the quiet confidence that comes with a sound work ethic. If you get off track, then do what I do – think of the hot dog guy.

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