Monday, October 18, 2010

Albert Einstein’s Three Rules of Work


“Three rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

~Albert Einstein.

In many parts of the world there are typhoons, cyclones or hurricanes registered. Indeed, the region I grew up in was prone to them during a six-month season every year. It always amazed me that in the ‘eye’ of these storms was perfect, eerie stillness.

This illustrates Einstein’s rules of work: there is order within the middle of many calamities.

RULE 1: Achieve Beautiful ‘Elegant’ Simplicity

In my article, Elegant Simplicity - Achieving It, I describe the fact that simplicity is possible but we don’t get there without enduring some of the pain of complexity to get to the other side of it. There is a sense of tenacity and vision required before we enjoy the outcomes of simplifying things.

Work is most inspiring when we’ve simplified it. This is real improvement and simplification should be the main objective in improving work.

No one really enjoys work, or many things for that matter, that are awkwardly clumsy and cluttered beyond sense.

RULE 2: Promote Harmony

Very rarely are people comfortable in conflict; and the ones that are will be the sort of people we don’t really want to interact with. Even as we meet these we limit our opportunities at conflict via the exercise of diligence and prudence.

Harmony is always the gold of interaction; whether it’s people and relationships we’re talking about, or processes and systems showing how fluidly things are working, i.e. in harmony with everything.

The gold of harmony is peace. Everyone seeks peace (and still many don’t know how to achieve it). Work needs to reside in “peace” if it’s to be effective and efficient.

RULE 3: Search Out Opportunities

Oh how we know the theory, but we have our struggles with practice of it!

Opportunities always lie in the difficulty. It is the patient person, team, process or system that can extract maximum value from the difficulties so as to enjoy future opportunities, for the longsuffering way is adept at holding tensions in balance. It won’t skirt the pain. Pain is seen as a necessary pathway to the real value that’s to be experienced later.

Of course, this is not only a spiritual principle it is steeped in the biblical. When we hear the words, “Consider it pure joy when you suffer all kinds of trials...” (James 1:2-4) we know where it’s going. There is hardly a more powerfully paradoxical truth known to the whole of humankind.

Maturity—whether it is in people or systems—cannot truly occur without some (or even much) hardship.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

One thing all these three rules have in common is difficulty in getting to their end points.

As mentioned earlier, it’s both tenacity and vision we need. We need vision to have the hopeful foresight of something better and then we need the tenacity to get us all the way there without giving up. Of course, direction is also critical.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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