This is a question I came across in Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism, and one I’ve been sharing lately in talks and conversations.
Greg suggests that in any team or organisation, “clarity of purpose consistently predicts how people do their jobs.” When people are clear they know where to direct their efforts. When things are vague, people begin to grapple with how to look good to justify their efforts, rather than do the right things, because they don’t really know what those right things are.
This translates to individual productivity as well as team productivity.
I know that the times when I’ve been really clear, I’ve been more focused and fired up, less caught up in comparison, less tempted by other people’s business models or magic pills, and less distracted by my own wild imagination.
On the other hand when I’ve been pretty clear, I’ve found myself chasing shiny objects, starting multiple projects (because I’m not sure which one will fly), saying yes to things simply because I’ve been asked, and being far easier thrown off course by fear, criticism, overwhelm and other people’s definitions of success.
When we are really clear about what we’re saying yes to, it’s far easier to say no.
When we are really clear about what we value, it’s far easier to set and keep our boundaries.
When we are really clear about our work and our why, it’s far easier to know the difference between real work and fake work, between opportunity and distraction, between doing the work and proving our worth.
And it’s not just big picture clarity we need. We also need clarity in the day to day.
If you have ‘write book’ or ‘research venues’ on your to-do list, what does that really mean? When you have a vague email, how much surplus thinking, extra noise or confused action does that generate?
When everyone turns up to a vague meeting, how much of that meeting is spent figuring out why you’re all there, going off on different tangents or ‘filling time’ – only to get to the end of the meeting to conclude that you probably need another meeting to do some more ‘figuring out’?
Lack of clarity creates work, because when nothing’s really important, everything can be pretty important.
How clear are you about your work this week? Pretty clear or really clear?
Want my help with this – for you or your team? Get in touch.