Cultivate Clarity To Seize Success

A series of painful lessons recently reminded me of the importance of cultivating clarity before taking massive action. By making assumptions, I ended up making a heck of a lot more work for myself. Ever been there?

A few simple steps could have saved me a lot of time, energy and frustration. Oh, that I had heeded the advice of the proverb that counsels:

“A smart man learns from his mistakes.
A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

The truth is, I love my job. I love my kids. I love my life. And I love learning more about people, business and the world. Taking massive action in any of these areas is immensely rewarding. That satisfaction propels me forward, motivating me to take it to the next level.

However, when playing big in life, if you forget to check your progress to make sure you are on course for your big goal, you’ll quickly run off course (like I did). The bigger you play, the bigger the rewards—and the higher the risks.

Recently, I failed to clarify instructions for a big project. I took massive action anyway, full speed ahead in the wrong direction. Some six hours later I realized my mistake. Instead of investing a few minutes to ask questions, I ended up wasting hours of time—and I had to start again at square one.

Without clarity, you’re going to make mistakes. When the stakes are high, mistakes cost you time and money and results in lost productivity. Can you afford those kinds of losses in your business?

Here are a few suggestions to help you cultivate clarity.

  1. Start with the end in mind. This is the key to the creation process. If you don’t know what you want, you’re not going to get it. Set a goal. Get very specific about what you want and then map out the steps you need to reach it.
  2. Ask questions. What does the end look like? What is the desired result? Are there examples of those results? What is the most efficient and effective way to reach your goal? How will you measure results? Remember, the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.
  3. Don’t assume anything. I’ll be the first to admit that patience is definitely NOT one of my virtues! Because of my excitement to dive in and make amazing things happen (AKA, impatience), I tend to make assumptions. As the clever saying goes, when you assume, you end up making an “ass of you and me.” Bottom line, assumptions result in lost time, money and productivity. Don’t do it!
  4. Parrot. No, don’t go buy a bird (unless you’re really want a feathered pet). If your project involves collaborating with others, act like a parrot. When you feel crystal clear on instructions of the process, repeat back instructions or steps to make sure they match what the team is doing.
  5. Keep checking the big picture. Stop staring at your feet. Yes, there are times where it’s best to just hunker down and get some work done. But when you’re playing big and moving fast, remember to look up. Frequently. You can get into trouble in a hurry if you don’t constantly check and recheck the process and how it all fits together with the big picture.
  6. Learn From Mistakes. Every “mistake” contains a lesson. On the occasions you do crash and burn, look for the moral of the story. Assess what happened. Figure out what you learned. Then plan how to avoid making the same mistake in the future. And of course, where possible, do as the Latin proverb recommends—leverage your success from the blunders of others. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Clarity is vital to seize success in your business and life. If your vision of your goal is as clear as mud, you’re going to make mistakes. Follow these six steps. Get clear. And get moving. Play big. Life is quite a thrill going full speed ahead.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about a time when a lack of clarity caused you to crash and burn. What did you learn from the experience?

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