The very best steak I ever ate was at a dinner with Jeff Pulver in 2007, at the 9 Steak House in Las Vegas at the Palms. I was so floored by the flavor. I had eaten plenty of steak from all over, and yet, this was truly the most flavorful steak I’d ever eaten.
I asked the server to tell me what they did to season it, because clearly it was magical.
“Salt and pepper,” he said.
Huh? He was serious. Salt. Pepper. Done. That’s it. And yet, it was the best flavored steak I’d ever had. By the way, if you’re ever over to the house and I cook you steak, that’s what I use to season it. Salt. Pepper.
Salt and Pepper Simplicity
We seem to want to complicate things as humans. We seem to believe there are deeper secrets than the simple actions that others take to succeed. When people ask me how I got so many followers on Twitter (and now on Google+), I say the same thing: “be helpful.” And yet, they think there’s more to it. Salt. Pepper.
Simplicity allows us to appreciate the execution more than the cleverness of our plan. Complexity is mostly about being clever, if you’ve never noticed. Simplicity is about execution.
There’s a place for complexity. Surgery can be complex. Building huge structures can be complex. Rocket science is pretty complex.
But what you and I do, both professionally and when we’re just trying to be better humans? That’s salt and pepper.
Simple Isn’t Easy
Simple doesn’t mean easy. Telling the truth is simple. The results of that aren’t always easy. Being clear and helpful isn’t easy. Write out on paper how to tie a shoe, without any drawings. That’s not easy. And yet, shoe-tying is simple (for most folks).
Listening to people is simple. Actually doing it isn’t easy. Apologizing is simple. Sometimes, it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. Letting go is simple. It’s never easy.
The more places in our life and our business where we can season with salt and pepper, the better life becomes. Executing cleanly on simple efforts is far more valuable than pulling off something clever that gets you attention briefly, but has no lasting change.
And truly, if you want to know just one more secret, I’ll share it: complex is usually just a lot of simple things played out in a smart sequence. There you go. Free!
So, what’s your salt and pepper?