If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. (Albert Einstein)
Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. (Charles Mingus)
Kelly Johnson – an aeronautical engineer in the 1950s and 60s – is credited with creating the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.
Contrary to some interpretations of the KISS principle, it is not at all about suggesting that people are stupid. It is about simplicity and how simplicity is more functional and useful than complication.
It is said of Johnson that he would give his design engineers a handful of tools and challenge them to design jet aircraft. These planes had to be simple enough to be repaired by the average mechanic, in combat conditions, using only these tools.
Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle said, We are not studying in order to know what virtue is, but to become good, for otherwise there would be no profit in it. (1)
The acquisition of virtues is not an antiquated mode of being, it’s a vital framework for human life. Virtues are like instructions in a manual for living productively. We think of things like love and kindness and loyalty and trustworthiness as pleasant optional extras that will make our lives more pleasant – but they are much more than that. Cultivating real virtues – not nominal ones – creates the environment necessary for spectacular human growth. And that, as Aristotle might have said, is where the profit in virtue exists.
…for the human reality may be compared to a seed. If we sow the seed, a mighty tree appears from it. The virtues of the seed are revealed in the tree; it puts forth branches, leaves, blossoms, and produces fruits. All these virtues were hidden and potential in the seed. Through the blessing and bounty of cultivation these virtues became apparent. (2)