‘Simplicity is the end result of long, hard work, not the starting point’

– Frederick Maitland


In the 1990’s, Apple was a sinking ship. In 1985 Steve Jobs, the famous entrepreneur and co-founder of Apple had been famously removed, but in 1996, the visionary was brought back. 

Jobs led a Normandy-size rescue campaign and brought Apple back from the brink of disaster. How did he do it?

There were of course many factors, but one which cannot be overlooked was a particular principle, a principle that was just as present in Jobs’ everyday life as it was in the salvation of Apple. 



You’ve heard the tales before, no doubt – Jobs’ apartment was so basic and minimalist that for years he had next-to-no furniture and a mattress on the floor. The excess was only clutter. 

Once again, MVL rears its head in the stories of the great. 

When Jobs came back, he cut 70% of the projects in Apple’s pipeline. Which 70%? The 70% of products he didn’t believe in as much. 

What sets Apple apart from other hardware companies? Simpler and cleaner products, simpler and cleaner aesthetics. Simplicity is hard work. 


That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple 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 can move mountains.”

– Steve Jobs



Maitland’s quote is profoundly true. 

Our impression of Buddhism is tied to this idea of simplicity. From the outside, things look very Zen, very minimalistic and very peaceful. 

Those who immerse in Buddhism appear to forego a lot of the essence of everyday life – material possessions and key emotions. 

But how much hard work, how many hours of mindfulness and meditation, go into carving out this simplicity?


Simplicity is the end result of a complex, un-simple process

Things look simple when they’re published, because simplicity is the ultimate goal of a published work. It needs to be digestible and palatable. 

As such, a true artist hides the marks of their artistry… but don’t confuse a simplified end product with the process, because the process is anything but. 

If you look at a Mark Rothco painting, perhaps Black on Maroon or Orange and Yellow, you might make this very error. The art looks simple. 

But his paintings are huge, and combine complicated different-colour squares comprising of everything but the actual end colour. 

Remember, Thomas Edison found 10,000 ways to make the light globe not work before the one that did, and James Dyson made 5,217 failed prototypes of his cyclone vacuum cleaner. 

Maitland was right about simplicity. Nothing is less simple than simplicity itself.


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