Deep and Narrow vs. Wide and Shallow

Today on Write to Done, Leo Babauta posted a guest writer’s thoughts about the relative value of focusing a blog post on a single subject vs. the bulleted list of “the x best…” or “the y truths…”  There are places where these lists make sense, but I have always been concerned about a formulaic approach to leadership thinking and action.  I know that there are several bestselling authors who would disagree.  But a close read of Pat Lencioni and even John Maxwell belies the simplicity promised in the titles of their books.

I guess this point of view may be why I have never coupled leadership development with motivational speaking.  When I get calls asking about a motivational presentation, I am generally a little reticent.  I am more likely to provide a sleepless night than a short term pump up.  I am more likely to ask hard questions than try to present formulaic truths and absolute laws for living and leading.  In fact, most of the motivational speakers I have ever heard espouse a way of living based on willpower.  And most of the people I have ever met who can truly mold their lives as they wish based on willpower are motivational speakers.  Our emotional humanity is too powerful to be made subservient to a purely mental decision.

There are times when lists are terrific and certainly can simplify challenging material.  But I think that Einstein’s observation applies here.  “Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”