This morning, as I walked into the family room (an addition to the back of my home), cup of coffee in hand, looking through the windows and watching the natural world awaken, I heard a “crack.” Or, perhaps it was more of a “snap.”

What scenario is more likely?

a.) During the night, the enormous oak tree out back lost the footing and stability of its roots and slowly lowered itself down onto the roof—so slow, in fact, that I hadn’t even heard it come to rest. Now, with the immense weight of the tree resting squarely on the roof line, the structure of the home was starting to fail. The “snap” was the first roof truss starting to splinter. The house was about to collapse; or

b.) A small bird flew—beak first—into the window. He bounced off, no harm done.

Turns out, scenario “b” was it! Woo-hoo!

In the 12th century, a Franciscan Friar named William of Ockham wrote, “Plurality must never be posited without necessity.”

Put a different way—the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

This principle, which has been used by thinkers of all disciplines for over 800 years, has come to be known as “Occam’s Razor.

Occam’s Razor is often cited by skeptics of conspiracy theories. It is used by physicists to prevent bias and utilize first principles thinking. It is used by business leaders to develop strategies and workflows. In fact, in recent years, many scholars have elevated the phrase to new heights: “Keep It Simple Stupid.”

This makes me wonder: How many times in my life have I ignored Occam’s Razor?

It also makes me wonder:

How many times in my business have I ignored Occam’s Razor?

How many times have I made needless assumptions, which kept me from action?

How many times have I prescribed my own failings to elaborate constructions of circumstance?

How many times have I constructed self-made roadblocks, through unnecessary and unsubstantiated worry?

How many times have I overlooked this simple path to success: Create Happy Customers.

Do you ignore Occam’s Razor? In your life and in your business?

Do you make unnecessary assumptions and ignore the simplest explanations?

I can tell you, right here and right now, I haven’t lived to my potential. Not as a man, not as an entrepreneur, and not as a small business leader. Hell, I’ve yet to come close.

What scenario is more likely?

a.)  That I haven’t lived up to my full potential because of a long series of causal events, twisting and turning, out of my control, ebbing and flowing with the tides of luck and chance, and circumstance? Or

b.)  I just haven’t worked hard enough?

Ouch, that’s one sharp razor. Isn’t it?

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