Stop Trying So Hard!

I learned very early on as a leader the importance of simplicity and the importance of not trying so hard.  When I was a Prison Warden over 10 years ago, I remember having regular meetings with my key staff to discuss what could be done to simplify their job and to encourage them to stop trying so hard.  Many times the answers to the simplicity question would be things such as: minimizing paperwork, reducing bureaucratic log jams, streamlining of central office vs. prison facility processes…

On the other hand it seemed to take more time for them to understand the concept of “not trying so hard.” Often times they they felt as though the inmates would respond better if they were “over the top” or their supervisors would notice them if they tried really hard.  They had to learn the difference between being a hard working, get er’ done, follow the rules and do what’s right type of employee and an employee that simply tried way too hard.  The reality was the employees that tried way too hard were the ones that caused most of the problems in our prison facility.

I’ve always valued cultures of simplicity and not trying so hard.  I also value cultures of high performance and although people may think the two are mutually exclusive, high performance and lack of the over the top “trying so hard” go hand in hand.  High performance and doing what’s right, the right way will begin to come natural.  Just think how natural it feels when the Chick-fil-A employees greet you with a smile and a “My Pleasure.”

When the leader falls into the “Trying Too Hard” category, it creates problems for everyone.  Relax, chill and Stop Trying So Hard!  The people that you are trying to impress can see right through that mess. Focus on creating a culture of Simplicity & Not Trying So Hard.

Some examples of ways to create a culture of simplicity and not trying so hard can include:

  • Stop trying so hard and making everything a”Big Deal.”
  • Help “over-the-top” employees find an appropriate balance.
  • Avoiding knee jerk reactions.
  • Embracing the ”5 Minute 5 Phone Calls” concept.
  • Allowing your team to have some space, allowing your team to do their job. (Avoid Micromanagement)
  • Reducing the amount of paperwork, steps, hoops, processes…
  • Creating a culture of healthy conflict and the minimization of drama.

Share your thoughts, experiences, opinions on the importance of Simplicity and Trying Too Hard.  How have you seen either side of this coin play out positive or negative?

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Scott Williams served as a key leader and Campus Pastor for He is the Chief Solutions Officer for Nxt Level Solutions, a consulting company he founded to help businesses, non-profits and individuals with both internal and external growth. Scott is speaker, strategist, consultant and developer of leaders. He is an avid blogger at, and leverages Social Media to make a Kingdom impact. Scott is passionate about leadership development, organizational growth and diversity. He is the author of “Church Diversity – Sunday The Most Segregated Day Of The Week.” Scott is married, a father of two, and lives in Oklahoma City, OK.