Life is complex. Regardless of professional title or personal status, life is challenging! Numerous decisions. Unending priorities. Many of them conflicting. Rising expectations. Immediate returns. Too many logs burning on the fire. The elusive quest for “balance.” Tools developed to ease burdens backfired. And then some. Can we simplify life without compromising impact? Experience? Perhaps.
A differentiator between good and great leaders is the ability to simplify the complex. I recall our senior team grappling with a challenging situation. We bantered in exasperation before our chief executive rescued us, summarizing the challenge in one sentence. Confusion lifted. We stared blankly wondering how we missed it. The core problem clarified, we developed a solution and executed. Now imagine the power of clarity in all our daily decisions! I made a note to seek clarity first in all things. I think we all did. Not an easy task! Especially for rescuers and fixers. Still grappling but making progress.
Clarity is a skill we must learn to master.
I began applying the practice of clarity to my personal life. Thanks to mentors, I had a jump start prioritizing life and developing what I refer to today as objectives and key results (“Measure What Matters,” John Doerr). As a man, husband, father and employee, I can articulate my mission, vision and objectives. But when asked to introduce myself, I lead with my job title or some sort of humble-brag. Not really who I am, but a resume regurgitation. Sigh. Despite previous planning efforts, I lacked clarity. I am not my work title or a list of accomplishments. Not even close.
After a year of deliberate introspection, counseling, and meditation, I began to experience clarity. At the core level, I know who I am and what I stand for. Life remains a complex paradox of conflicting priorities and opportunities, but clarity cuts through the haze. Well, most of it. Secure, I care less how others might judge. Decisive, I make decisions quicker and easier. Confident, I say no to things without (as much) remorse. Purposeful, I know where to invest or withdraw resources. Balanced, regrets are increasingly rare. Focused, my impact improving. Still a work in progress, but getting there.
Clarity breeds authenticity. Clarity hastens connection.
Clarity, well, rocks.
We are unique. There is no solution that fits everyone. I am sharing what worked for me, family and mentees. In fact, it is the first assignment for those I mentor. Perhaps it will encourage you. Simple process… Start today. Take time and reflect deeply. Figure out who you are. Who you want to be. What is your life’s passion. Your societal contribution. Ask loved ones for their insights. Engage trusted friends and co-workers. Draft concepts and test them. Measure and adjust. Remain accountable. Be thoughtful. Stay simple. Less is more. Don’t quit.
Clarity came via four short verbs. Keeping it simple and easy to articulate, each begins with an “S.” Everything I do is aligned on these. They became my mission. My checks and balances. My reason for existence. My filter for clarity.
- Share. I allow others to pour into me, so I may pour into others.
- Serve. I am created to serve my family, my community and my employer.
- Study. I continuously learn so I continuously improve.
- Shape. I stay fit and spiritually sharp to maintain health and balance.
Clarity simplified my complexities. Beautifully imperfect, but directionally correct with measured results. Quality of life improvements. Depth of relationships increased. Performance enhanced. More sleep. Better balance. The journey continues. Each New Year’s Day I review, measure and adjust.
I love to learn from you. How do you experience clarity in your life and work?