Simplifying the Complex by “Sifting Folly”

“Sifting Folly”

What a glorious phrase, eh?

I was reading one of my favorite blogs (FarnamStreetBlog.com) and this phrase really got my attention. Partly for its eloquence but mostly for what it stands for.

The topic was Albert Einstein and why he was so freaking smart.

One reason, widely accepted, was his ability to quickly and effectively reduce complex matters into a simple matters.

Author John Wheeler claims it was due to Einstein’s years working as a patent clerk, whereby he had to take dozens of daily patent submissions and succinctly explain to his boss whether they would or would not work. Seems legit.

For ol’ Al, there simply wasn’t enough time or advantage to complicate the explanation; so he learned to ‘sift through the folly’ in order to arrive at the simplest explanation or solution to the matter at hand.

In Einstein’s own words:

“I soon learned to scent out what was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things that clutter up the mind.”

Oh yeah, then he earned the Nobel Prize for outstanding achievement in Physics for his “E=MC2” thing. Coincidence?


One of the responsibilities of a Crisis Response Leader is to manage the chaos before it manages us.

Yet, by its very nature, chaos is complex so we must use simplicity to counteract its power.

This inertia to be complex is, in my opinion, one of the underlying reasons that crises of all types and sizes linger longer and do more damage than they should.

Too much complexity.

Not enough simplicity.

If you want to be part of the solution with me, be sure you’ve opted in to receive exclusive info about my Response Leadership Program, designed specifically to address problems like these for people like you.

I hope you’re able to sift the folly out of the week ahead and I hope you’ll join me in improving the condition of Response Leadership.

Who else needs to know?

About the Author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector responders successfully lead themselves and others through any planned event or unplanned crisis.Please contact Mike via the Contact page or at any of the social media links with your unanswered questions and your unmet needs.

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