EASY AND HARD
First, let me ask you a question.
Can you walk?
No, really, think for a second.
Considering you didn’t injure your legs I suppose it does seem like a strange question, doesn’t it?
But what if I asked this question to a baby?
Well yeah, first of all, he couldn’t really talk.
But he could show me.
Let’s look at the baby’s response.
Well, at least he’s trying …
Obviously, this is a pretty challenging task for him.
He needs some help from a sofa and his hands in order to properly walk.
For most of us, walking is such an easy thing to do, isn’t it?
But what about this little guy that is struggling?
Not so easy.
If I asked you how do you walk, what would you say?
Probably that “you just walk”.
At most, the fact that you need to put one leg in front of the other.
Imagine the baby answering the question.
“Well, you have to first get on both feet, then try to move each one and keep a good balance. You also need something to hold yourself to because the feet are not able to sustain that balance for more than a few steps. It is inevitable that you fall and you will have to use your hands to protect yourself from the fall and then help yourself to get up. It is advisable to have a pet around as a cheerleader and at least one adult in order to hold your hand or get you up when you hurt yourself”.
That was a nice answer from the baby, wasn’t it?
Now, this example perfectly showcases the difference between something that is easy and something that is hard.
The difficulty depends on the person’s ability.
However, it’s not that simple.
There are other 2 terms which add an extra layer of complexity.
Simple and complicated.
And Steve Jobs knew this so well.
SIMPLE AND COMPLICATED
We learned that 1+1=2, right?
What do you think about this one?
If you are curious, you can copy paste the text here and see how it would look like on paper.
I will tell you the answer to this math equation so you don’t waste your time finding it.
It’s the same as 1+1.
The result is 2.
In other words, we get the same result, with significantly different inputs.
Which one would you rather solve?
If you are like me and most people, then probably the first one.
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want everything in life to be simple?
And this is perfectly fine.
But if we like it or not, some things are complicated.
How do you know it’s complicated?
Well, unlike a relationship, you don’t have to guess.
If you start searching on Google, that’s a good sign that it might be a little complicated and you need some help.
Don’t get me wrong, what you’re looking for might not be hard, it might actually be something easy.
But simple doesn’t mean easy and hard doesn’t mean complicated.
That is because these 4 terms are not one and the same:
- Easy or Hard
- Simple or Complicated
As we’ve seen, something can be easy or hard, simple or complicated.
The catch here is the difference between them.
Easy and hard are words we associate based on our perception or capability.
They are subjective.
You decide if something is easy or hard, for YOU.
On the other hand, simplicity and complexity are more objective words we associate with something.
We can both agree that physics or math, as a whole, are rather complicated subjects to understand.
As much as you’d want to simplify them, it will take some time and mental effort to understand them properly.
So what does this mean?
It basically means that we should be able to distinguish them.
First of all, we need to understand them one by one.
We already covered that with some simple examples.
However, it doesn’t stop there.
What we must know is their ability to connect with each other.
Rest assured, there are only 4 possibilities that we can create.
- Simple and easy
- Simple and hard
- Complicated and easy
- Complicated and hard
Not hard to guess which one we prefer 99% of the time.
But let’s have a closer look at how they each stand up to each other, because not everything is created equal.
1. SIMPLE AND EASY
You could say this is heaven.
Who doesn’t like when something is simple to understand and easy to do?
Considering we are not babies anymore, some things have become both simple and easy for us.
Although the following example I’m going to give you has both its pros and cons, I do have to give it.
It’s easy to understand and if you think about it, even a baby can do it.
What I’m talking about it is…
Don’t tell me you aren’t doing this more often than you’d like.
You are actually doing it right now, aren’t you?
What do you have to do?
Just move your finger.
Can it get more simple than this?
Probably when VR will let us scroll with our eyes, but that’s another story.
The scroll wheel on the mouse was first developed in 1985 and the first commercial mouse with a scroll wheel was released in 1995. That’s around 30 years ago.
Even , you had to push a button in order to scroll. Imagine still using buttons instead of a touchscreen.
Scrolling on Facebook or Instagram wouldn’t feel that easy anymore.
Nowadays it’s probably one of our favorite hobbies.
The truth about simple and easy things is that most of the people do them.
Actually, this is the mission of most of the companies in the world.
If they are able to give you something that is simple to understand and easy to use, they are on the right track.
It’s not simple and easy for them, but for you, it’s so convenient, that you do it repeatedly.
- Why is McDonald’s having so much success?
- Why is Starbucks having so much success?
- Do I have to tell you how big the pharmaceutical industry is?
They all give you the convenient option.
And who can blame them?
This is what we want.
Our brain has enough things to think about already. The moment it sees something that is simple and easy, it tells us “this is what I want”.
This is the reason why diets are so popular.
Most of them tell you how simple and easy it will be to have the perfect body you always wanted.
Just buy the program.
You know why YouTube is so popular?
It relies on our instinct to conserve energy.
You just have to sit and watch something.
But not just anything.
How many 1+ hour videos with difficult subjects do you look at and how many 5 minute videos on step by steps or the 10 secrets to success do you look at?
Simple and easy to understand?
Simple and easy to do?
Everyone signs up.
I think you get the idea for this one.
However, the next one is a little more tricky.
2. SIMPLE AND HARD
You remember how I said that usually hard is a word that is linked to our perception?
At this point, the range of things that fit this category varies wildly.
Because we are all different.
Let me ask you a few questions.
- Is there any secret to losing weight?
- If you search for a solution, would you be able to find it?
- Is it actually possible to lose weight?
We all know it is, don’t we?
So how do you lose weight?
You eat fewer calories than you need.
For the sake of not going into too many details, unless you have a big health problem, eating fewer calories than your body needs results in weight loss.
It’s simple math.
You count your calories, you eat the right foods in the right quantity and you’ll look like you always wanted.
Looks simple on paper, doesn’t it?
But simple doesn’t mean easy.
How many overweight people are in the world?
Don’t we all have some fat that we’d want to get rid of?
I know I have.
But hey, we can get rid of it if we want.
Simple. We decide.
Do we want to lose weight?
If we want, what do we have to do?
Well, buy the right foods and eat them.
But you might say to yourself “hmm, broccoli doesn’t sound that tasty”.
I know, I know, broccoli lives in a cruel world where only a few people are his loyal friends.
So does that automatically make it hard?
Of course not. You still have spinach, cauliflower, cabbage and many more options. They are all nutritious foods that are dense and at the same time, low calorie.
But then you have another thought.
“How can I live without my favorite foods? No sugar? No drinks? I can’t eat whenever I want to? What is this? Prison?”
With these type of questions, even I would have problems losing weight.
The issue here is not actual simplicity or complexity, it’s our perception of it.
If you associate the word “prison” or “restriction” to losing weight then it doesn’t really feel like an easy thing to accomplish.
We all do this. We all search for what could go wrong or bring us pain.
On the other hand, how would you feel if you said to yourself that losing weight means getting rid of the waste on your body?
What if you told yourself that losing weight is a time when you eat smaller amounts of food, just like going to a fancy restaurant where every meal is worth $100?
How does it sound if you are thinking that you are the guardian of the temple (your body) that you must protect?
It’s a different feeling, don’t you agree?
There are many things that are simple, but we perceive them as being complicated and hard.
It’s true. Almost every new thing that we do can be a little hard, but many times, it’s only in the beginning.
How about tying your shoelaces while being a child?
How about learning the alphabet?
How about the time you tried to get rid of a bad habit?
But you did it, didn’t you?
Now it’s a piece of cake.
3. COMPLICATED AND EASY
Back to something that we all enjoy.
Unlike the previous combination, it becomes easy again.
However, compared to our 1st “simple and easy” combination, this one is a little different.
Now we’ve switched from simple to complicated.
So what does that mean?
Well, again, it’s highly individualized.
Let me give you a quick example.
If you have a car, do you remember a time when you were on the road and then all of a sudden you realize that you are driving for 15 minutes and you don’t even remember anything from those 15 minutes?
It’s as if you were in a trance.
The truth is, your brain has become so good at driving, that it doesn’t even require your attention.
It goes into autopilot mode, so you don’t even have to think about it.
The reason why this happens is that we achieved such a level of capability that our mind switched to auto-pilot, to save us mental energy.
It happens many times.
Did you ever daydream while listening to someone or something? A professor, a friend, a TV, even while watching and listening to a Youtube video?
Although listening might be an easy task, the message, on the other hand, might be too complicated.
At that point, if the mind finds the subject complicated or boring, it’s not a surprise that it’s going to go into a low-energy mode and just think of other things.
We could say that we have both positives and negatives regarding this combination.
How much would you enjoy driving if every day for the rest of your life, it would feel like the first day you tried to drive?
A car is a complicated object. If driving was a simple thing, you wouldn’t even have to get a license, but since it’s something that requires some effort to learn, you first have to practice with the help of someone else.
If you think about it, coordinating your feet, your hands, and your eyes, all at the same time, each having to do something different, might seem a little overwhelming.
Keeping the car example, what happens when your car has a problem?
Unless you’re an engineer, you have to send it to someone who knows how to fix the problem, or even find the problem if you aren’t sure what it is.
If you’re thinking about finding the solution on YouTube, sure, that’s possible as well, but it doesn’t make it any less simple. When you have to search for help, you know something might not be that simple, even if it’s easy to fix, once you find what you are looking for.
On the other hand, remember the daydreaming example?
When we face a complicated situation, even if it’s easy to understand, it may not be easy to pay attention.
Actually, if you think that something is easy, you won’t pay as much attention to it.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s go back to losing weight. Remember how it’s something that’s simple in theory but hard to do in practice?
Well, at the same time, the mechanism for losing weight is complicated, but it’s easy to put into action.
Our body has more than 50 hormones. Imagine you were trying to optimize your nutrition for each one.
Would you even try to lose weight if you were thinking that each food affects 50 hormones on its own?
But who eats just 1 thing in a day? We probably eat at least 20 different things in one day. That’s 20 foods x 50 hormones = 1000 processes to think about.
It’s crazy, isn’t it?
We don’t even have enough time in a day to think about all these processes in our body.
But the truth is, if you want to lose weight, the basic principle, more or less, is to reduce your calories.
The system itself is complicated, but the action required is easy.
I kept the example of losing weight because it shows how one thing can be viewed from different perspectives.
I couldn’t stress enough how important mindset is.
Losing weight, as a process, is complicated because our body is a complicated machine. But at the same time, it’s easy to make it happen, since we know how to do it.
So losing weight is a simple thing in objective terms, but for us, as a person, it’s a hard thing to do, because subjectively speaking, we don’t like the idea of restriction.
Now we can better see how anything in life, is a matter of perception.
Don’t get me wrong, you still have to go through some phases. You can’t find driving easy from the first day or perceive losing weight as a simple concept if you didn’t learn anything about the process yet.
However, that’s the beauty of it.
Some things can change over time, and it is under your control.
We are able to make things simple and we can make things easy.
Isn’t that amazing?
It sure is.
Who wouldn’t enjoy having this superpower?
But there’s a catch.
As I said, this applies to SOME things.
If you didn’t forget, there’s still one more combination to explore.
And it’s called Hell.
Well, not literally, but for most of us, that’s exactly what we see.
It’s neither simple nor easy.
It’s both complicated and hard. And yes, there are such things in this world.
That’s where superstars are made.
That’s where money is made.
That’s where great people are made.
And I’m sorry for who doesn’t get the idea of the next image, but I’m going to be brutally honest here because that’s the only way to see the difference between thinking or hoping and actually doing.
You might be thinking “hey, weren’t you saying mindset is important?”
Sure it is, you need to think before you act.
What if someone would tell you they’d send $1million to your bank account, immediately after jumping from a cliff?
4. COMPLICATED AND HARD
Not many people enter this danger zone.
And I don’t blame them.
Who wants chaos?
Not most of us.
It’s definitely the most uncomfortable situation.
But it doesn’t have to be, at least not forever.
The fact that something is complicated and hard, can be both a blessing and a curse.
It’s the same thing as with stress.
- Some stress is good.
- Chronic stress is harmful.
Complicated and hard means that there’s a challenge.
An obstacle to go through.
The problem is that most of us avoid obstacles.
Or if there are no obstacles, we create them.
This is where this combination is deadly.
If you are faced with a challenge, the best thing to do is to try and solve it.
Is it hard? Maybe we can make it easier.
Is it complicated? Maybe we can simplify.
Is it both complicated and hard and it will remain that way? Maybe it’s time to decide if it’s worth it or not.
Let’s get back to our weight loss example.
So the plan is to lose weight.
Time to see ask ourselves a few questions.
- How do you actually lose weight?
- What do you have to eat?
- When do you have to eat?
- How much do you have to eat?
- Do I need to do exercise?
- When is the best time to do exercise?
- Do I need supplements?
- What kind of supplements?
- Do I need a gym membership?
- What kind of gym membership?
- Do I need to buy clothes and accessories for the gym?
- How will I get to the gym?
- What if I don’t have time for the gym?
- Do I really need to cut out all sugar?
- Can I even have a life anymore?
Ok, that might be enough.
See how hard and complicated everything can seem.
If you start with 0 knowledge, it can become overwhelming. But again, it’s about perception.
Do you think that you might find answers to all of these questions?
Of course, you can. There’s no mystery here. Everything can be answered.
The problem is when you see it as something hard and complicated.
Yes, it is hard, it is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
For example, I wrote in this blog post how you can learn anything smarter, rather than harder.
It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible either. Actually, it might still be complicated or hard even after you grasp it, but that doesn’t make it any less achievable, does it?
Why do you think engineers or programmers are paid well?
It’s because they chose to pursue a path which isn’t simple and easy.
I think we can all agree that these are rather complicated and hard things to learn, at least at the beginning.
As a matter of fact, they will remain complicated no matter what. That is exactly why people specialize in one area. It’s not as if a programmer knows all the coding languages.
It’s important for us to realize that some things might be a challenge, but it doesn’t mean that we have to look at them as if it was a scary monster that we can’t defeat.
Did you see how hard and complicated weight loss seemed to be if you asked yourself too many questions all at once and then you added a few toxic questions as well?
Let me give you a question which almost guarantees that you will fail.
“What if I do all of this and I still won’t lose weight?”
This is one of the worst questions.
Let’s imagine how a smoker would use this question.
“What if I stopped smoking and I would still die?”
That’s not a very bright question, is it?
You won’t live forever just because you stopped smoking, but the chances of living more significantly increase.
If you don’t start, you can never finish.
You will know when something is complicated and hard because you won’t even start.
That is why I mentioned how great people are made.
Do you think any entrepreneur has the right questions from the beginning?
Do you think that I had any idea what I was doing when I started this blog?
Ok, maybe a little.
But I had to look at many websites before I decided how to design my own. It took a few weeks and it’s still a work in progress.
Even writing doesn’t necessarily come easy. Every writer will probably tell you that it’s not the easiest thing to do, even with a lot of years of experience.
Take Tim Ferriss for example. He has already around 5 books and hundreds of articles on his website, but that doesn’t make writing a new book any easier, especially when you have high standards. He stated this several times.
In the beginning, I found it very difficult to write as well. I had no idea how to start, or when to do it. Which time of the day should I write at? Should I first create a structure and then start writing? What should I write about? Why should I even write?
However, keep this in mind.
Questions are not the biggest problem.
I can ask myself “why should I even write?” 100 times, that’s not a problem. It will become a problem when I will start giving the wrong answers.
You should never answer your questions with self-defeating beliefs.
What’s that you may think?
Simply put, when you’re pessimistic.
That means I would tell myself: “I shouldn’t write because …. because … because …”
Do you think Mark Zuckerberg asked himself why he shouldn’t create Facebook?
Was it simple and easy to create Facebook?
Was it hard, complicated and a really big challenge for a college student?
It sure was, but that didn’t stop him from doing it.
He didn’t ask himself why he COULDN’T do it.
He asked himself why he COULD do it.
There will be times in our life when we will have to face complicated and hard challenges.
Maybe this next image with Britney Spears net worth can tell you a story.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES
Can you see a difference in Britney’s net worth?
It’s basically the difference between continuing to make small good choicess or a big bad choice.
If you look up at the net worth of most celebrities, it goes up each year as in Britney’s “should be” case.
However, if you make one big mistake, all that can change.
You can see that on the red line.
Does that mean we should fear mistakes?
Should we even try facing a challenge?
Well, that’s the point.
When something complicated and hard comes your way, you look at it as a challenge and solve it or at least, do the best you can.
We can always find a way.
On the other hand, if a challenge comes your way and you stop because you are afraid of facing it, what happens?
As in Britney’s graph, you can see that you don’t advance anymore. You don’t grow. And it can be even worse.
What if you actually have no problem, but create one for yourself?
Well, you can imagine what would happen if you’re a gambler. You go way down, you might even go below 0.
That’s how much a big mistake can affect you.
Fortunately, we can avoid these type of big mistakes.
Well, the simple answer is just to face any type of problem.
Simple, easy, complicated, hard, it doesn’t matter.
You’ve seen in all of these examples that in most cases all you need are 2 things:
If you understand that anything can fit into one of those 4 buckets, would you be certain that there’s always a way to do something about it? That it may sometimes be a challenge, but if you face it, you can overcome it?
If the answer is yes, then we can agree that nothing is impossible to achieve.
So when you face a difficult situation, ask yourself:
- Is this hard, or do I need to practice more?
- Is this complicated, or do I need to simplify it?
- Is this too easy, or do I need to push myself more?
- Is this too simple, or do I need to look at the bigger picture?
You can use any question you want, as long as it gives you the right answer.
All you have to do is take a pen and a piece of paper. You can even use Excel or Word if it helps.
It’s an effective tool to use when you need some help.
If you find something complicated or hard, drill it down.
Take a look at my image down below, with the 4 quadrants.
This is an oversimplification since I would add a few more bullet points to each, but you get the main idea.
If I wanted to make writing easier I would add:
- write down ideas in Evernote and put later in the article
- imagine I’m writing for just one person
- make the information helpful and actionable
- I can write whatever comes to my mind and edit later
If you look at one thing as a big bad wolf (and we all do most of the time), just find the reasons why it’s not as scary as you thought initially.
Move it to another quadrant and you’ll make your life way easier.
And if you want to come up with a reason why you wouldn’t be able to do it, before posting in the comment section, first ask yourself why you couldn’t do it.
Did you better understand the difference between these 4 terms?
Can you identify one or two things in your life that might be in the wrong quadrant right now?
If yes, then I’m glad to know that you’ll play around with this new information.
Maybe it’s not even new, but don’t we all read something and then just forget it?
Don’t let that happen to you.
If you take a piece of paper and make the 4 quadrants, you’ll already be ahead of over 90% of people.
Maybe you don’t even write anything on it right now (although I wouldn’t recommend that).
But the fact that you took even the smallest of action, makes you an action-taker.
And who is rewarded in today’s fast-moving society?
The people who think or the people who take action?
Just imagine a 10km race. If person A starts with a speed of 4km/hour and person B starts with 5km/hour, who would win?
Obviously, the person with 5km/hour. He finishes in 2 hours, while the other person finishes in 2 hours and 30 minutes.
But if you’re slower, it doesn’t mean you don’t have any advantage.
If person A starts running 1 hour earlier, that puts him at the 4km mark by the time person B starts running. Even with more speed, person B will finish the race in 2 hours at 5km/h, while person A will finish it 30 minutes before person B, simply because it takes him 2 hours and 30 minutes in total, but he started 1 hour earlier.
This is the power an action-taker has. Maybe he’s not the smartest, maybe he’s not the fastest, but he started earlier and gave it his best.
To make a quick summary, here are the 5 questions you can use to review and improve what you’re doing.
#1 Is there anything you are doing right now in your life that needs an improvement?
#2 Can you simplify it or make it easier? (think of time, effort or a better way of doing it)
#3 Is it too simple or easy? Are you ignoring or missing some aspects that would help you?
#4 What reasons can you come up with to move it to a quadrant that makes it more convenient for yourself? (use a few bullet points to shortly list them)
#5 Are you ready to test it and finally improve something that you found difficult for a long time?
Give at least 1 minute to each one, otherwise, you won’t let your mind think it over.
It’s easy to just ignore a question when it requires some mental effort.
It happens to all of us.
And that is all you need to do.
Simple but powerful.
Are you going to give it a try as soon as possible?
Actually, why not right now?
That’s what action-takers do.
On a final note, I want to congratulate you if you got to this point of the post because this means that you are ahead of more than 90% of all the other people in the world.
We all know that the more you learn, the more you earn. Be it financially, spiritually, emotionally or physically.
Don’t get me wrong, you have to LEARN and then APPLY what you learn, but if you are the type of person that is reading this kind of long-form blog post from start to finish, there is no doubt in my mind that you are also aware of this simple, yet challenging fact.
I want to leave you with a few other articles of mine where you can see how I’ve structured many of the blog posts in a similar fashion to make it easier for me to create it and easier for you to read it. Some are a little older so they may have a different feel to them, but the value I tried to pack into them is just as valuable. Enjoy.
1. Why what you do is x10 more important than how you do it – the importance of picking what you want to do in your life.
2. How I select my courses as an Erasmus student – how to think and structure a decision.
3. Simple guide to learning anything the smart way – how to learn in a faster and easier way.
4. Making better decisions by understanding buying behavior Part 1 – an in-depth look at how you can make better day-to-day buying decisions and how to improve your decision-making skills.
If you have anything to share regarding this post, please do.
I look forward to a discussion in the comment section down below.
If there’s anything on your mind, don’t be shy, you have the comment box down below ⇩⇩⇩ Promise I won’t bite ⇩⇩⇩
Life enthusiast with a great desire to constantly perfect myself, get in better physical and mental shape, while also helping other people by sharing everything I’ve been able to learn.