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Complexity and Complications

High performance is complex. There is no doubt.

Complex systems work best without added complications. Complexity is good and comes from the inside. Complications are not always good and come from the outside.

From my work comparing medalists and non-medalists, repeat medalists reduce more than non-medalists. They protect and polish their complex system.

Like a bone repairing after a break. The meshing is complex and can happen without interference. A repair may need a cast to support the complexity.

Sometimes a repair needs a pin. When we add a pin we add complication. It could work out or it may not. The surgery and recovery attempt to integrate the complication into a complex system. The aim is to minimise interference so the system can realign and repair.

In high performance we fly when we know what supports complexity and what interferes. Sometimes not adding is the best decision of all. And the hardest.

Our human psyche sees reduction as missing out. ‘More is better’ is learned early in sport and life. Advertising and marketing show us how much better life can be with more. Less is not a core of high performance either. I worked in sport innovation for 10 years and know how enticing and distracting addition can be to sport performance!

Research has proven reduction is not our first choice in our decision making and we need prompting. Take the prompt. Notice how your attention changes when you subtract in your day compared to when you add. We naturally begin to see cause and effect, delay, and interconnections. Non-performance related activity can stand out to us. Unnoticed when we add, spotted when we subtract.

Addition conceals. Subtraction reveals.


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