Complexity Kills

I did a podcast a while back called, Complacency Kills but, when I say, “complexity kills,” I’m talking about the exact opposite of complacency and/or doing nothing. I’m talking about doing TOO MUCH. And, more specifically the mistake of pitfall of over-planning and over-complicating every element of your life.

I look around and I see so many people offering crazy hacks, tips, tricks, fads, pills, strategies, etc., and most of them are too complex – so complex that no one even implements the strategy in the first place.

I get a lot of how-to type questions:

“How do I lose weight?”

“How do I start a business?”

“How do I save my marriage?”

“How do I get a promotion?”

“How do I get stronger?”

Let me answer those questions for you: eat less, sell something, love your wife, work hard and ask for it, lift heavy things.

Now, inevitably, when I give an answer like that, most people think I’m being a smart-ass. I’m not. I’m giving you the truth. I’m giving you the exact answer. I’m telling you exactly what to do.

“Oh, but Ryan, it can’t be that easy!”

It is that easy but you don’t know it because you’re too busy looking for that complicated formula that will allow you to have the results without working for it. And, while you’re out there doing that, the guy that decides to eat better, or take his wife on a weekly date, or sits down and budgets his money each week, or puts a few more pounds on the bar to lift, or marches into the boss’ office is getting the money, the promotion, the body, and the women you’re after.

So people will ask me, “If simplicity is really the answer, why don’t we hear more about it?”

You’re not hearing more about it because, if simplicity is the answer, you don’t need all the internet gurus, marketing geniuses, entrepreneurs, snake-oil salesmen, and wanna-be’s out there trying to sell you their wares, products, services, gadgets, and gizmos, etc.


Telling you to eat better and move more doesn’t sell a health course.

Telling you to spend less than you make doesn’t require a financial planner.

Telling you to show some love and appreciation to your wife doesn’t allow for the marriage counselor’s hourly billing.

Now, I do realize that there are some things that you can learn above and beyond all the entry-level stuff we’re talking about here but at the end of the day, you’re probably not going to be qualifying for the Olympics anytime soon so, worrying about, what to eat down to the ounces, or when to eat down to the minute, is just producing diminishing returns.

I’d rather you go for the low hanging fruit than the fruit at the top of the tree you can’t get without coming up with some hair-brained tactic to get it.

I’m talking about the actions that will yield the highest results with the lowest amount of effort. Some people may say that’s lazy but I say that’s efficient.

I only have 24 hours in the day. You only have 24 hours in the day. So, I’m going to do the activities that yield the highest results in the lowest amount of time possible. And that, my friends, requires you to strip away all the B.S. and get to the core of what matters:

  • Writing your wife a note – not a novel
  • Picking up flowers on the way home – not buying her a new car
  • Balancing your bank account – not using some sophisticated app that takes 6 months to learn
  • Paying for big purchases with cash – not some fancy credit card point hack you learned about
  • Cutting out soda – not your green smoothie with ingredients imported from the corners of the earth
  • Putting 10 extra pounds on the bar or doing 5 more reps – not researching how the muscles respond when you do a 5, 12, 4, 9, 4 19 rep scheme
  • Going for a walk – not that sophisticated running schedule you bought online
  • Playing catch with your kids – not the family vacation that took you years and thousands of dollars to plan

These are all low-effort, high-yield activities.

There is a time and place for some of these sophisticated strategies but the default should always be the simple. You can build from there.

Moral of the story gentlemen: stop gaming the system.

Complexity kills. It kills progress. It kills growth. It kills innovation. And, it kills your chances for success.

Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

I’ll leave you with that. I know it’s a shorter one today but, in the spirit of the message I’m sharing with you today, I’ll stop talking when there is nothing more to say.

Gain exclusive emails with access to the best information available for men. Leadership, Self-Mastery, Relationships, Money, Manly Skills, and more. Become the man you were meant to be.
Previous post

From the Archives: Stephen Mansfield

Next post

112: Six Roles of the Modern Man | Brett McKay


  1. May 11, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks, great point.

  2. May 18, 2017 at 10:07 am

    You have to go after those low-effort, high-yield activities.