"Make Life Simple"
Make your life as simple as possible, but not simpler
Jul 26, 2020
Reviewed by Wendy Van den Bulck
Just as the whole world is overwhelmed by complexity, here’s Andrew’s latest book, ‘Make Life Simple’. I’d say, brilliant timing…
I met Andrew on two occasions; the SOL World Conference in Frankfurt in 2017 and the SFiO Unconference ‘SF use in Large Scale Contexts’ in 2019, long before he wrote this book. Having read his book, I realise now that in our conversations at these events, Andrew did a lot of what he describes. He is a great explorer of desired outcomes, is authentically interested in peoples’ stories and is always thinking about opportunities that make a difference. That, to me, is one of the purest things that I can say about the book; he writes from within, and you can read that in every word.
The primary action the book invites you to take is to rid yourself of the need to act or be seen to act. Instead, pause and look for what you want first, not too far in the future. This book helps you to improve your immediate situation:
“When we need to get things done, we will go on a journey that will take us to the future, then the here and now (or the recent past), and then we will take one small step towards where we want to be”.
Andrew describes the benefits of looking outwards for useful interactions, not inwards for answers when you face a challenge:
“To make a change, look outwards first. Change is out there waiting for you if you want to notice it”.
To me, this is definitely a must-read book about Solution Focus. Andrew demonstrates the rich benefits of exploring the desired future to reveal small steps to take:
“Every time you work out what you want in terms of noticeable differences, you will find ways to get them that will help you change your course of action in response to change that is happening all the time”.
As well, Andrew encourages you to explore the differences explicitly that this desired future would make for the people around you; the book helps you to make a difference for yourself and others. Andrew devotes 41 pages of his book to the importance of Social Capital1 and how to build it:
“We can create and nurture our story and others’ stories. Being a useful person in your network pays dividends that are more than just financial. Building the Social Capital of those around you is a great way of making a difference in your world”.
That is a tremendous connecting message in this book; to make your life simpler, you must invest constructively in other people’s lives. It is also how I esteem Andrew; as a warm-hearted person who always wants to make a difference.
This book is not a purely theoretical work, nor a mere collection of examples. Andrew succeeds in creating a well-grounded mix: a firm foundation with insights, quotes and the necessary background. He illustrates it with a treasure of examples from many different fields; his personal life, his coaching sessions, workshops and networking events, the UK’s socio-economic and political context, history, education, sports, organisations and more.
Andrew also makes links between Solution Focus and Agile, an approach to managing projects that originates from the development of software. Even here, he is continually looking outwards for useful interactions.
I would recommend this book to a wide range of readers. For example, it:
- Can help you strengthen friendships and family bonds
- Provides a useful approach to raise children and educate young people
- Can help teams and organisations with the challenges they face.
I would also advise all change-makers and decision-makers to take the time to read it, including politicians. This book provides methods to make life simpler, and above all, it leads you to look at life more simply. Hence it offers ways to bring this into practice.
The book reads fluently, and Andrew writes in clear language for native and, like me, non-native English speakers. I sometimes lost the structure a little because the many helpful examples diverted me, but I never lost the thread, since he writes in a consistent way. The visuals that he uses are also beneficial to me; he might usefully have included more.
It might not be easy to “Make Life Simple”; however, I can imagine the difference this book will make, for myself and others. I will not jump into action now that I’ve read it. Instead, I will pause and explore these differences further. Only then, I will act with confidence and obtain more of what I want, more of the time…
The stories about you and your reputation in a network ↩︎