I must admit that a guilty pleasure of mine is the Food Network show Chopped.  Hidden among the culinary battles for Chopped Champion are some of life’s greatest lessons on success.  I love the twisted mystery baskets of ingredients, the seemingly impossible time limits and the lofty expectations of the judges (sound like life?). But what I love most is the reminder that winning—success, often comes down to one’s ability to execute.  While the chefs are tested on creativity, ingenuity, culinary skill and presentation, it’s the extent they can execute a whole dish that wins them the title and $10,000.

In a rush to display all their skills and talents with the ingredients and balance the clock, many Chopped challengers fall victim to the devil of successful execution: complexity.  Simplicity begins to feel easy, safe and not-good-enough to win while complexity feels hard, better and a competitive advantage.  But simplicity is not about easy.  Simplicity is about choosing a priority, a bigger yes, an ability to find your best.  In the words of Steven Covey, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. The way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

The Chefs who find their bigger “yes”, who display courage in saying no to other things execute their dishes well.  Their dishes aren’t overwhelmed by pantry ingredients, aren’t hindered by unfamiliar techniques and any bobbles along the way fall short when compared to their ability to execute a successful dish.  What simplicity allows is for cohesion in a dish.  It allows each ingredient to find its place, be treated appropriately and provide an overall successful execution in a complete bite.  A complex dish will often include a single ingredient executed well, but the cohesion of the dish and the completeness of the bite falls short; it’s good, but not great.

In your life, find your bigger “yes”.  Use that to guide your decisions and when you feel like things might just be good when they could be your best; step back and ask yourself if you’ve had the courage to say no and keep it simple.