“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated,” wrote Confucius. With all the noise in their lives, clients trust you to make their lives simple. Being too busy is often used as an excuse for avoiding critically important but uncomfortable actions such as planning for retirement or saving for a child’s college tuition.

Simple can be harder than complex to execute. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there (once you simplify your story) your practice will flourish.

Let’s look back to the good old days for a prime example of simplicity. Small-town doctors were masters at simply explaining a course of action for their patients. They knew all the technical jargon yet related to their patients in a very understandable manner.

Simplicity is the new sophistication. Complex communications breed mistrust and inaction. Simplicity breeds deep understanding and action. Most of the language we use in our industry is scary and foreign to our clients. Tell them what you can do for them in simple language. Challenge yourself to constantly keep your language clear. In time, you’ll acquire the skill to keep your message simple yet significant. In the words of Ronald Reagan, ” They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. Keep it simple.”

Here’s an example of how one advisor borrowed a straightforward idea from another industry. The original business plan of Southwest Airlines had been drawn up on a napkin, and this advisor adapted it and applied it to his investment practice.

The original Southwest business plan was a triangle. At the top was Dallas, on the right was Houston, and on the bottom left was San Antonio. That was it. The business plan was that instead of people driving between those three cities, Southwest would simply fly them. The rest is history.

The advisor seized the concept. He took a napkin, and in the top left hand corner he wrote, “We’ve seen several investment and retirement plans on paper napkins, and they list a multitude of ideas. We hope you didn’t use a paper napkin to plan for your retirement.”

He uses these napkins at all his events. You might provide your napkins to a local diner or restaurant. As you see, it’s okay to appropriate ideas you see in other businesses and creatively adapt to your practice to stay ever mindful. Give this idea a try in the new year.