Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby. And, now, Dr. Rick.
Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thanks so much for tuning in to this podcast episode. So glad you could be with us.
I want to talk about a subject that you might find boring. You might find it rather unexciting. You might find it kind of dull. Yet I think this subject has the potential to transform your life. What is that subject? That subject is simplicity. That's what I want to talk to you about for a few minutes this week. Simple simplicity.
Let me share with you a few people who placed a high value on simplicity. Let's start with Leonardo Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance man who said that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Not bad, huh? [01:11.4]
Albert Einstein said everything in life should be made as simple as possible. Not simpler, but as simple as possible.
Henry David Thoreau said that our lives are “frittered away by detail.” Simplify, simplify, simplify. He also said this: “We are happy in proportion to the things that we can do without.” Oh, that's a good one, huh?
Henry Wadsworth said, in manners of style, in manners of all things, “the supreme excellence is simplicity.”
William James said, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” Think about that one the next time you get in an argument. The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. That's just good wisdom. [02:07.9]
You might be surprised by who said this next quote. Listen to this—one of my favorite mantras is focus and simplicity. Simplicity can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you’ll be able to move mountains. Steve jobs.
Confucius was right when he said life is simple; we humans tend to make it complicated. And that reminds me of a time in my life when I was in television. My assignment for this particular day was to cover opening day for the San Francisco Giants baseball team, one of my delights, especially growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, a Giants fan.
And so opening day is just so much fun. There's a lot of pump. There's a lot of festivity. There's usually a flyover. You usually have famous people who are gathered there for that day. Usually a big name sings the national anthem on this day. It was one of the Bay Area favorites, Huey Lewis and the News. It was just a spectacular day. [03:14.5]
I don't remember the score, don't remember the game, but this is what I do remember. At the end of the game, after all the interviews were over, as the locker room was literally empty, I found myself walking out with Giant slugger, Jack Clark, who used to play in the outfield. And I remember turning to him and I said, “Jack, wasn't this day magnificent? Wasn't this day? Wasn’t this day unbelievable? Wasn't this day amazing?” and I went on and on and on.
And with a quizzical look on his face, he turned to me and he said, “You know,” “y'all” meaning the media, “y'all make it into this big deal, but for us, it's just a game,” and that always stuck with me over the years, watching some of the greatest sports events ever like the Masters and the British Open, and like Wimbledon and the NBA finals or March Madness, or watching the Kentucky Derby or watching the Super Bowl. [04:07.4]
And you hear the athletes say the same thing that in order to have a razor-sharp purpose, we have to keep it simple. It's just a game. We literally have to block out all the other pomp and pageantry. That has always stayed with me.
Author Richard Foster wrote an interesting book a couple of years ago titled The Freedom of Simplicity, and in this book he really illuminates some very important themes, largely our passion to possess and our psychotic lust for affluence. And he says this passion and this lust renders us fatigued and frustrated, and fractured and fragmented. Oh, isn't that the truth, friend? I'll tell you, there is really a freedom associated with simplicity. [05:01.4]
I'm currently reading a book by this author named Carson Tate. The book is amazing. The book is titled Work Simply. Now, Carson, she's an expert in the area of workplace production, and her ideas, listen to me, her concepts are so simple, they are profound, and what they do is they push you past being busy to being productive. They push you past being just busy to working in a way that really encourages meaning and purpose.
Listen to what she says. She says, set goals early every day. Prioritize every single day. This is a big one with her. Establish boundaries. I love one quote she said. She said the only thing that's lurking in your inbox is everybody else's agenda. Oh, baby. So she says, you know what? I learned how to work smarter, not harder. Learn how to work in bite-size pieces using the giftings that you have by setting boundaries and setting priorities, and by making sure that you set your goals every single day. [06:11.0]
She says this quote. She says, you can always earn more money, but you can never earn more time. Give that book a looksee. The book is titled Work Simply. Her name, Carson Tate, and I think that she's right. Looking at my own life, looking at the way I tend to work, I've had to make some adjustments over the years. I still do, because what I'm realizing is that John Wooden was right. John Wooden said on one occasion, activity does not necessarily equate to achievement, right? And so, I'm realizing that the more simplified my approach every single day, the more consistently I will maintain that approach and the more I will accomplish.
What are you saying, Rick? I think the simplicity can help us recapture sanity. I know it can help restore peace. I know it can help reestablish our priorities and make us more grounded. Simplicity, I think, can even reinforce and encourage a sense of normalcy. [07:11.4]
I'm coming to you during the COVID-19 pandemic and we're all looking for a sense of normalcy during this time of tremendous uncertainty. So, it's not surprising to me that an interview caught my eye recently on the news. Ayesha Curry was being interviewed. If you don't know that name, she's an entrepreneur. She's a restaurateur. She's an author. She's the mother of three daughters, and she happens to be the life of NBA superstar, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
But she was on television not talking about any of those things. She was on television saying, In our home, during this time of uncertainty, we have discovered that simple routines are reinforcing normalcy. She even called them her quarantine habits. [08:01.0]
Listen to them. Make your bed every day. Get dressed. Plan your schedule. Get moving. Drink some wine and eat some bread. Friends, it doesn't get more simple than that, right? I mean, it got me thinking about one of the most profound books I've ever read titled Make Your Bed.
My first book, Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout, received wonderful acclaim for which I'm grateful, and it was always paired with this book, Make Your Bed.So, I remember that I wanted to see what Make Your Bed was all about. The author is retired Rear Admiral William McRaven and the concept is brilliant. Let me give you just a little bit of context.
When Admiral McRaven was a young Navy SEAL trainee, training to be a Navy SEAL on Coronado Island, which is in the San Diego area, you had to do everything perfectly, because in Navy SEAL life is not about you; it's about the mission; and if you make it about you, somebody might die. So, you paid meticulous detail to everything. [09:05.1]
Don't you know those commanding officers were on those wannabe SEALs? Everything had to be circumspect, including your uniform, including your rack, including your bed. And so, the Admiral talks in his book, Make Your Bed, that every single day his bed had to be meticulous. Hospital corners, they had to be blocked. They had to be perfect. The pillow had to be in perfect symmetry, and in proper orchestration with the sheet and the blanket. And above all, that quarter when flipped on the bed had to bounce.
And any violation of the uniform code or the specs with regard to your rack resulted in you becoming a sugar cookie and nobody wanted to be a sugar cookie. What this meant was if you violated inspection, you had to hit the surf, as they say. You had to jump in the ocean regardless of the hour, regardless of the temperature, and then come out of the ocean and roll around in the sand until you had wet sand covering you from head to toe. Nobody wanted that. [10:08.3]
You know what the Admiral said? The Admiral said that little things can change your life, that the simple task of making a bed literally set the standard of excellence for the rest of his day and invariably the rest of his life. That is awesome to me, friend. I highly recommend that book, Make Your Bed.
After reading that book, I came up with my own routine that is very simple so as to reinforce consistency and it's just three words that start with W that I do every day. Wait, walk and water. Simple, right?
Wait. In scripture, King David says, “My soul waits in silence for the Lord and the Lord only.” Every morning I begin my day with waiting on God, with meditation, with reading the Holy Scriptures, with prayers. That is “the” most important priority to me. [11:10.5]
Second, I make sure that I walk every day. I think Tony Robbins was right when he said inside the word “emotions” is the word “motion” that you can't expect to have healthy emotions unless there's motion in your life. Doesn't that make sense? Isn’t that simple?
And then, water I think speaks for itself. Just to remain hydrated has been a very important part of my health journey. I want you to listen to the words of somebody that I hold in high regard. He is a business consultant named Robin Sharma and he is simplistically profound. He came up with this line. He said that simplicity is the trademark of genius. Oh yeah.
Listen to what he said. See which camp you're in. Most people move toward complexity, more to-dos, more projects, more products, more meetings, more goals, but the best move in the opposite direction, leaner, more focused business models. They do fewer things, but they do them smarter. [12:18.2]
And then he says this. Real genius lives in simplicity. Real genius lives in simplicity.
I want to close with a man that I consider the epitome of simplicity, and I know many of you know this person, but let me give a little bio before I give this person's name. This person went through some really hard times without much and yet accomplished a great deal. His mother died when he was seven years old. He and his brother were reared by their father and the father stressed for his two sons academics and athletics. Except for his young seven year old, he said that does not include football because you are slight in frame, so you can play everything else except football. [13:09.0]
So this young seven year old would gravitate to the tennis courts in his neighborhood, and he practiced and practiced and practiced and really got good, so good that he's playing in all the junior tournaments in his area, except because he's African-American and because he's living in a segregated part of the country, he can't play against the best talent that happens to be a different color. And so, his family decides to move him to another city where he can play everybody, regardless of ethnicity.
He continues to play and play and play, gets a scholarship to UCLA, largely thanks to his commitment to the ROTC. This young man is commissioned as a second lieutenant, graduates from UCLA, goes to West Point and trains tennis players in the training academy there at West Point. [14:00.5]
He becomes the first African-American named to a Davis Cup team. He won three Grand Slams in his lifetime and was ranked number one for a long period of time. You know who I’m talking about, the great, the legendary Arthur Ashe.
Put great and legendary aside and listen to the quote, his most famous quote—“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Ho-ho, baby. I mean, does that nullify any and every excuse? You might be saying, Rick, I'm home and stuck at home, and I don't have a gym membership. Don't have any weights at home.
You know what my grandmother, I should say my mother-in-law taught me? Years ago, she wanted to just build her biceps, right? She didn't want to go to a gym, so what she did was she started lifting #10 cans, those big cans of vegetables and beans. Do you think that's kind of weird? On television, a couple of weeks ago, I saw one of the top fitness gurus in the world talk about lifting gallon jugs of water to strengthen your biceps. [15:15.8]
What are you saying? Start where you are. Use what you have and do what you can.
Friends, have you ever been on a road trip only to discover that you didn't use or wear most of the clothes that you took? You even had to sit on your suitcase just to get it past security. Now that you're on the trip, you're using your fund money to buy another suitcase to take back home the things that didn't fit in your original suitcase and you have vowed that you're never ever going to do it again?
If that's you, and that's been me, I close with this one simple thought that comes from novelist Charles Dudley Warner. He said simplicity is making the journey of this life with just enough baggage. Think about that for a few days. [16:08.1]
Until then, let me just say it's been a real pleasure to be with you this week. I trust that you will consider living a more simplified life, not simpler, more simplified, as a way, in Steve Job’s words, of moving mountains. Just give that some thought.
Let me close by asking you the most important question I can ask you today, friends. How you livin’? I'll talk to you soon.
Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/freegift to get the print or audio book right now.
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