Three things I learned from Albert Einstein

By Tony Latimer
Tony Latimer

1. Simplicity

At school I was always puzzled by the quote "Everything should be simplified as much as possible, and no more."

  • What on earth did it mean?
  • How would you know when you had got to "No More"?

Gradually I realised what he was saying. When you correctly analyse something to it's simplest components, you get a universal truth. A principle that works everywhere.

By simple, I mean the Oxford English dictionary definition "Simple = comprised of few parts".

Gallwey's performance equation, first given in The Inner Game, has three simple parts. Performance = Potential - InterferenceThe principle of truth and beauty as defined by the mathematician K.C. Cole in The Universe and The Teacup became apparent. Cole's principle is that you know something is right because it looks right, even before you can prove it.

Simplicity has great benefits. If you can explain even the most complex concepts at a level of correctly analysed simplicity, everyone will understand. Complex theory remains theory, simplicity can easily be put into practice.

Ask yourself "What am I trying to convey to someone that needs to be simplified?"

2. Change

"If you keep doing the same thing the same way and expect a different outcome; that is the definition of stupidity."

OK so I have slightly misquoted (for dramatic effect, you understand). And the principle is true.

In the organisation we coach for behavioural change. So everything is measurable. You just have to define the behavioural change required. Think about anything you want to achieve with your organisation, measured by money, market share, whatever. Plot a graph showing where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

Then plot backwards to where you were in previous periods. Extrapolate a straight line forwards from the past and see if there is a gap.

The gap is not just the gap in the unit of measure (money etc.). It is the behaviour gap.

Ask; What behaviour would I need to see change in order to achieve the different outcome?

You can now communicate the desired change; and measure progress on a daily basis and know whether you are on track to the outcome you want.

3. Three

Going back to the performance equation, it has three parts. This equation started my journey of analysing how the principles of non-directive coaching could be use as a management skill.

Interestingly, each area I examined came down to three elements. When something still had four or more it niggled at me, didn't feel right. Then as I hit three elements it not only felt right, it looked right.

The third thing I learned from Einstein was Three.
There are always three things.

Three is the smallest number that makes a pattern and as brains do pattern matching, this has to help. Also three is comfortably within the number of things that even the male brain can hold in it's conscious awareness, so three is easy to recall. (or remember as we so often, and incorrectly, say.)

So when analysing, keep going until you get to three. Simple.

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