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Why do some people seem to resist simple solutions to problems? Not sure if you have, but I've heard comments like, “Oh, that could never work—it’s much too simplistic.” Having sold training to corporations since 1986, I’ve certainly run into those who want to over complicate everything when there is a cleaner, simpler approach available. I suspect there are deep psychological reasons why humans often defy going the simple route, but I don’t know what they are.

Here’s a good example of how and when simplicity works, yet is often rejected as "simplistic."

Weight loss.

Back in the day, I wrestled on the Ithaca, NY high school team. When your dad is the Cornell University wrestling coach, that’s what you do. In my senior year, my weight class was 132 pounds. That was 1976.

As of April 2012, I weighed about 195. I say “about” because I really didn’t track it anymore. When you know you’re losing the battle of the bulge, it’s easy to look the other way. So the tall, mechanical “physician scales” that my parents bought me in 1973 (checking your weight in a wrestling family is as common as breathing) had stood untouched in the corner of our Denver garage for years.

Then, on Easter (4/8/12) we took some family photos. Upon seeing them 10 seconds later I said, “Oh, gee, that’s not me, that’s a beached whale.” 

The embarrassing picture found below in the bottom right corner of this QuickNote (yikes!) is a reflection of the reality I had created. For years my wife Karen would walk our Huskies and invite me along, but I’d find excuses not to join her. Or my kids would ask, “Dad, do you really need three plates of spaghetti?!”

And so it began. The next day I ate one less piece of toast at breakfast, boiled a chicken for lunch, had a big salad for dinner, and ended the day with yogurt instead of an ice cream sundae. And somewhere between meals, I walked our hyperactive Shiba Inu puppy, Mabel, around the block. The next day, she and I walked two miles.

In the 244 days since Easter, I’ve walked 240 times. I’ve walked the flat, dry roads of Colorado
where the sun almost always shinesup to five miles at a crack. I have walked in Nashville, Toronto, Salt Lake, Youngstown, Madison, Buffalo, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, and Manhattan—wherever my speaking business took me. One thing about walking, there aren't many places it can't be done! I’ve probably averaged three miles daily. Walking. It does a body good.

I've dropped 35 pounds.

Anyway, there was no plan, nor did I tell anyone. It wasn’t a big deal. I just started doing it. Quietly. Purposefully. Confidently.

What's been interesting, though, is how people react. I've learned, once again, how easily humans reject the simple.

When I shared with an executive at a “healthcare/well-being” firm that I’d lost all this weight, her immediate question was, “Oh, wow—what plan are you on?” A friend heard I was eating lots of chicken and said, “So you’re on the Paleo diet, eh?” And as I left Lowe’s one morning back in July, the bratwurst and chips vendor in the lobby offered, “Lunch, Sir?” I responded, “No, thanks. I’ve lost 20 pounds since April and I’m trying to stay away from stuff like that.” He said, “Protein? Carbs? What are you eating?” I said …


So now I just tell folks I’m on The Plan with No Name—and I’ll be selling it to millions of people for billions of dollars! Actually, I doubt anyone will pay for it. Too simplistic.

Here’s a simple truth (a redundancy since all truths are simple) that comes into play, whether it’s losing weight, bettering our society, building relationships, training our people, investing money, or improving our family dynamics:

There are no quick fixes to long-term problems.

On the weight loss front, it’s all arithmetic. Not gimmicks. Not fads. Not trendy diets. Bottom-line, it’s about the bottom-line. It’s simple math. Example:

If I burn off 300 calories/day more than I ingest,
I will lose around three pounds per month.

That’s doable, right? Another question: For those of us who’ve always struggled with our weight, who wouldn’t want to be down at least 18 pounds six months from today?!?

But in our nanosecond driven world, six months seems REALLY far off. So we turn to dietary shortcuts with fancy names that most eventually quit, but the creator of the trendy diet and author of the best-selling book got our money anyway!

I remember way back in the 80’s hearing this: When it comes to losing weight, it’s all about “a lifestyle change.” Different foods, less food, more exercise. That’s lifestyle. And when I take accountability for the choices that comprise my daily living and then make better choices, the results will come—eventually. Did I say it’s easy? No. I said it’s simple.

So, today, go ahead and ponder the power of simple solutions. It’s good to have something to occupy one’s mind—while on a walk.

PS: May I just say one of the greatest benefits of losing all those pounds is now being able to tie my shoes with ease all by myself. I am a simple man.

John G. Miller
Author of ...
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question
Denver, Colorado

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John and Karen Miller
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Parenting the QBQ Way

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