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Simple Ideas

June 30, 2020

Last week, I unpacked a lesson from my two-year-old son’s favorite book—The Pout Pout Fish.

If you missed it, the story is about a pouty fish whose perspective is changed by the love of a friend. Once he sees his “pout” in a new way, it changes the way he lives his life. 

Isn’t it interesting that it’s often the simplest lessons that have the greatest impact on our lives? Robert Fulghum certainly thought so when he wrote his #1 New York Times bestseller All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In it, he explains how those simple lessons from the sandpile at school are still valuable down the road.

In kindergarten, you learn to share everything, to play fair, not to hit people, to clean up your messes, to say your sorry, and to enjoy a balanced day of work and play. Fulghum dives into many more, but even from this short list, you could see how each one could be extrapolated and applied to our adult lives.

Another simple idea I’ve found helpful in my own life is the concept of the dipper and the bucket. Donald Clifton and Tom Rath, experts in psychology, explain in their book that everyone has an invisible bucket and dipper. You can pour into someone’s bucket by saying or doing things that build them up. Or you can take from somebody’s bucket by saying or doing things that tear them down. The same is true for your own bucket.

People can pour into or take from your bucket, so the health of your relationships can impact every area of your life.


There is a reason these experts chose to unpack the importance of human relationships with the most elementary image. (In fact, it’s so elementary they wrote their own children’s book about it!)

As we grow older, it’s easy to think we need to move beyond these elementary ideas. But we should take care to remember this: Simple ideas are easier to understand. Ideas that are easier to understand are repeated. Ideas that are repeated change the world. 

Whether it’s a pouty fish, a book about kindergarten, or a simple illustration about a dipper and a bucket, we are reminded of the power of simplicity. 

As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

My hope is that you and I will never stop learning from the simple lessons that come our way as adults. 


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