Leadership Matters

Created to help you become the leader everyone wants to work for.

Gaining Clarity on the Road to High Performance


Let's talk about Clarity.  According to the American Philosopher Buckminster Fuller, "clarity is power" and I couldn't agree more.  Becoming clear is a process that liberates, motivates and inspires you. So in what areas do you need more clarity?

What do you want?  When you know - with clarity - what you want, it provides context and direction for your actions.  It's amazing how powerful this little question can be, because often, we don't stop to think about what our heart desires before moving forward.  And sometimes, we allow other people to do the choosing, out of habit or antipathy.  When we allow other people to choose on our behalf, without stopping to think about what we would like or what we would do, we relinquish our power.  The ability to choose, which is uniquely human, is one of life's great gifts. And it's easier to choose when we know what we want, when we've actually thought about it and made a decision.

Sometimes, when I ask a client "what do you want?" the initial, knee-jerk reaction is "I don't know."  And my next question is "if you did know, what would you want?"  It seems facetious and yet, it's surprising how often this works.  Because we do know.  It may be a bit buried, but we do know.  We just have to dig a little for the answer, but it's there, somewhere.

The other question to help bring clarity to what you want is to ask:  What is it that you don't want?  Because, sometimes we are more ready to answer that.  And it may be that the answer to what we want is the opposite of what we don't want or at least a way to avoid what we don't want, which may get us a bit closer.

Practice these questions for a few days and see what happens.  Ask yourself what you want in any given situation before just diving in.  Ask others what they want.  Wait to hear the answer.  Give them time and space, especially if they are not used to choosing.  We easily get in the habit of letting other people choose.  And it can be a hard habit to break.

Another area to seek clarity is in your why.  What are the reasons you what the things you want, the goals you set, the actions you take and the thoughts you entertain?  What's behind all that?  Asking why repeatedly may help you get to a core value or reason that will help sustain you when the going gets tough, especially with goals.  Whenever obstacles are in the way, or challenges arise, or others raise objections, remind yourself of the reasons you want to achieve that goal to begin with, and give yourself a boost of energy and resolve toward its achievement. 

When I do this with clients, I keep asking why something is important to them, and when I get an answer, I ask why that's important, and so on.  Often, we are able to uncover either true motivation for completing a goal or project - or simply taking the next step toward it - or, as importantly, realizing that it isn't that important after all and we end up abandoning the course of action in the favor of something more meaningful to achieve.  Either way, it’s a win.

Having a clear why is extremely valuable.  Simon Sinek says "Start with Why."  When your what and your why are both clear, your sense of direction becomes clear too.  Even if you don't know the whole "how," you only need to lean in that direction and take the next step.  It's like the headlights on your car, driving at night.  You can only see the next few hundred feet in front of you, and as you continue, the next section becomes clear and then the next.  Understanding your what and why will shed light on the immediate steps, and as you complete those next steps, further steps will come into focus.

Finally, having clarity about your underlying, or core, values, is important.  Those things that are most important to you over the long run will continue to provide guidance and direction in daily decision-making.  When you have a clear choice, you can easily see which is in alignment with your core values.  Continually making choices that support your core values will help you succeed as a human being, again and again.  I often encourage my clients with questions like:  how would your “best self” respond in this situation?  What would your “higher self” do?  More to come on this.

For now, give some thought this week to what you want, why you want it, and what core values are driving you.