September 21, 2015
As we grow in our strengths, we feel more and more confident in our awareness that we are in the right place at the right time.
Known for his subtle but always innovative style, French composer Maurice Ravel described his own music as “complex but not complicated.”
Because the words are so similar—and sometimes used interchangeably—his statement sounds a bit like a contradiction in terms. It could almost sound at first like he is saying “six of one, half-dozen of another”. However, complexity and complicatedness are, in fact, vastly different ideas.
Nature, for example, is wildly complex in its ornate systems and flamboyant mysteries, which create and sustain life. We can all agree that it is certainly not simple.
But, can we really say that nature is complicated? Not really. That word, by definition, implies difficulty, strain, and, even, an element of the unnecessary. Anyone who has studied, or even sat in nature knows that there isn’t really a “struggle” going on. Things happen as they must and that is that.
Sure, life at all times in the forests and oceans is vying for nutrients and space—but there is an ebb and flow to it. An order. There is an obvious cycle being enacted and reenacted.
Consider the activity of a wooded valley, there is no deliberation or hemming and hawing. Sun rises, sun sets. If a tree can’t grow any longer, it dies and becomes fertilizer for the soil or home for insects and mushrooms. It is not moral or immoral, it isn’t a place were “choices” are made by leaves and bushes. Things just are.
So, it may just be that things shift away from complexity and toward complicatedness only when we enter the equation.
As human beings, it begs the question, “What would it mean to live a life that is complex but not complicated?”
When we live in our strengths, we are likely to face complexity without complication. Complexity being, perhaps, challenges with a value, while complicatedness being the opposite. The strengths give us a knowledge and a language that serve to streamline our actions and weed out the unnecessary “noise”. This allows us to tune into ideas that support the creation of the best versions of ourselves, while avoiding that which limits our greatness.
Through the strengths we don’t have to wade through complicated mazes of self-doubt and perplexity. By developing a new mindset where we look for our others’ qualities as well as our own we no longer question our motives and our path. We learn to accept and love ourselves for who we are, where we are. We have hope because we have a gameplan: a language to demystify our selves and others.
We can feel good about what we are doing and we can allow ourselves to feel fulfilled by our actions and decisions because, complex as they may be, we know they are leading somewhere.
Are we pursuing our own dreams or someone else’s? What about our lives is beautiful and complex? What about our lives is complicated? What would it take to shift the balance from complicatedness to complexity? Are we working toward our own greatness or someone else’s?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.