Does the world seem chaotic to you right now? Has the state of public discourse got you down lately? Do you find yourself needing to question most everything you hear?
And, do you find these outside forces starting to influence your personal and work life? You are not alone in this. It is very natural for the things going on around you, even outside of your very personal space, to have an impact on you.
What helps immensely is an effort to find absolute clarity around why you do what you do - in both your personal life and, if you are able to influence this happening, in your work life.
Dictionary.com defines clarity as being "clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity". I like adding absolute to the mix because I do not like to introduce levels of clarity. Without absolute clarity every positive aspect mentioned in the definition is compromised somewhat: clearness, lucidity, understanding. While at the same time both indistinctness and ambiguity are enhanced.
Achieving absolute clarity is not something that just happens. It takes work. You have to go through an exercise of getting to "know thyself" like you have never before. Done well, it involves those who have a perspective on the why you do what you do mentioned earlier. For you personally that is likely your immediate family while for an organization it is staff.
For my family, we went through a SWOT analysis and then I used my previous experience in strategic planning to bring draft goals and results for our family to "approve". We then used that work to ask what it is we wanted to achieve and ultimately determine our own Why. For us, this statement has been adopted to provide our absolute clarity.
"The Rudyk Family will be the happiest family we can possibly be."
Sounds simple but that is intentional. Clear, concise, easily understood and unambiguous. This sets us up to look at future time commitments and expenditures with a lens of happiness for the family. It has led to very real decisions being made such as eating out less and cooking meals together at home and moving away from community association sports to school sports for our kids. We all felt that our time together was negatively impacted by both of these activities and that the extra expense for each could be redirected to a charity of our choosing that aligned with our values.
Not every family is going to go through a SWOT analysis but you can achieve similar results by even just sitting down as a family and asking questions like: Do we spend enough time together as a family? Do we feel our family budgeting is leading to something? Are we happy with the pace that our family is setting right now - do we take time to relax and enjoy life?
For an organization this should be something that is not new. If it is then we should talk. No really we need to talk.
This kind of effort should show up in a strategic planning exercise. But what often happens here is that many organizations perform the activity of creating a strategic plan and check that box and then move on. The document itself sits on a shelf until next time around. There has been no real intent to truly dig in and "know thyself" or embrace absolute clarity. A vision statement might come out of it but it is likely too long and is trying to acknowledge every granular thing you do rather than answer the Why.
Here is a poor vision statement, in my opinion.
Pepsi "Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose. This reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and accelerate our top line growth, whilst keeping our commitment to do good for the planet and our communities."
If you can find absolute clarity in this statement you are doing better than me. What exactly is Winning with Purpose? But then to win sustainably? Plus we need to accelerate growth while at the same time do good for the planet and separately communities? Is there an answer to Why in here anywhere?
What this tends to lead to is is an organization filled with individual parts that are searching for their own fit into this statement but struggling with how the whole team comes together. I can imagine a year end and next year planning exercise being a battle royale of disparate pieces of the organization fighting for resources to achieve the goals in their own area. Corporate good is likely pushed to the side in favour of winning in a division or a department. Stressful.
Here, in my opinion, is a strong vision statement.
Nike "Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world."
I can certainly answer the question as to why I might be working for Nike. I can see where every different part of Nike is to align itself. I knew this vision statement myself before looking it up because it easily rolls off the tongue and both memorable and inspirational. End of year reflection and next year planning is likely focused on how well the collective has done championing the Why. This is not to say there are not courageous conversation that are had but they are grounded in the absolute clarity of this Why.
What happens when you achieve absolute clarity is that you find that trust between management, employees and customers improves dramatically. Without ambiguity, people know what is expected of them and they feel empowered to perform in an unconstrained way. Performance improves, employee satisfaction is enhanced and customers will share their positive feelings more often. Laser focus on achieving results becomes the norm instead of an outlier.
When this absolute clarity exists for you, hopefully both personally and at work, it allows for you to better tune out all the distractions that exist in your world. Whether they be the news mentioned earlier or people around you motivated by chaos and conflict. It leads to being much more focused and ultimately much happier. And isn't that worth the extra effort?
Take care friends.