7 Ways to Find Your Highest Point of Clarity during Uncertainty
A Leadership Freak reader asked me to explain, “Go with your highest point of clarity.”
Uncertainty invites anxiety, second-guessing, rethinking, and delay.
Decisions always include multiple options and uncertainty.
If everything is clear, reach higher.
Clarity in turbulence and disruption:
You always go with your highest point of clarity when making decisions.
In turbulence, there’s more fog. You always have multiple options, but options seem less certain when fog rolls in and you can’t see the shore.
The point of clarity is lower in turbulence.
During normal days you move forward when your point of clarity reaches a 7 out of 10, for example.
During disruption your point of clarity might only reach a 5 out of 10, but it’s your highest point of clarity. Go with it.
Confusion contaminates clarity.
Don’t let what you don’t know obscure what you know. Confusion in one area has the power to make everything seem confusing.
Confusion invites defensiveness and stagnation.
You always have points of clarity. Your mission to serve others is clear, for example.
7 ways to find your highest point of clarity:
#1. Reconnect with purpose and mission.
Don’t let the small picture overshadow the big picture. The question is how, not if, you live your mission.
#2. Find clarity as you go, not before you go.
Do something as long as you’re reasonably certain it won’t cause harm.
Progress during uncertainty is stumbling forward and bandaging your knee.
Action simplifies complexity.
Learning what doesn’t work is unglamorous, but necessary in the fog.
#3. Try short-term solutions.
Inaction won’t create the future you desire.
“Just for today,” or “Just for this week,” lets try….
#4. Avoid big experiments with scarce resources.
#5. Bring in outside voices to expand your approach and encourage your team.
#6. Stay open.
Choose agility over self-insulating inflexibility.
#7. Avoid decisions that lock you into long-term obligations.
How might leaders find their highest point of clarity?
What’s dangerous about going with your highest point of clarity?
How to Stop Obsessing over Negatives and Become a Positive Leader (Leadership Freak)
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. You will make them. Smaller steps in the direction you take will help lift the fog and allow for quick real time adjustments. Clarity will come from the second to third adjustment. Early reports from the battle field are generally foggy so we send out the scouts, probe the areas of contention and collect the tactical data to make sure the overall strategy is sound while being prepared to shift gears and adjust
Thanks John. Perhaps the troubling thing about progress is it’s iterative. In a changing world the half-life of decisions is short.
Clarity in the second or third adjustment. 🙂
Action simplifies, as in Keep It Simple Stupid;
but it does nothing, in and of itself, to resolve complexity.
action only tests boundaries & constraints.
Whatever equation you are using (e.g. “if this, then that”), it needs to run backwards and forwards the same to be sustainable.
“Invert! Always invert!” -Charles Munger
Thanks Rurbane. It’s good to see your remind us of your commitment to invert.
My experience is thinking about moving forward creates confusion. The fog doesn’t clear until you take your first steps forward… then you learn… then the fog starts to lift.
The real world is often much different then the one we create with our thoughts.
I only mean that action is necessary, but rarely the real solution.
Actions require real benchmarks (in regards to clear mission and genuine purpose).
Action leads to solutions when certain criteria are included. It’s not enough to simply act.
That criteria would be the bounds & constraints, to test what is/seems effective, at what, and what isn’t.
THAT info/feedback, and the connections between them, and the anomolies, is what helps to resolve the complexity. Be vigilant and be of open mind, and the various, complex actions give you the nature of the correct resolution.
How might leaders find their highest point of clarity?
The highest point of clarity occurs when I can separate the following
-Facts from feelings
-What’s accurate from what’s inaccurate
-What’s important from what’s unimportant
-what happened from what didn’t happen
Clarity occurs when you can strip away all the clutter.
Leaders simplify the complex!
Thanks Paul. Like so many readers, it looks like you’ve been finding your highest point of clarity for awhile.
Personally, I find the distinction between important and unimportant really helps.
Uncertainty is impacting our youth across the globe….We are a small rural school district in Central Valley California. Please share this video from our teachers and staff to our students during this unprecedented time of school closures. Sung to the tune of “We Are the World,” the heartfelt message will resonate with all teachers across the world and want their students to know “we are right here when you need us” and “soon there will be a better day for you and me” https://youtu.be/vjx4w66lXSQ
We only limit ourselves when we don’t seek the information to make a clear decision.
I like the small steps approach mentioned above works for me, as well soon the steps turns into longer strides and bigger steps to climb!
You don’t have to take giant steps to gradually reduce the fog!
Stay safe my friends!
I’m studying chapter 1&2 of James this week which echo this post. It also makes me have great empathy for our governors.
Dan, some would say that clarity allows us to stumble towards our destiny while others would say “fail and fail fast” or “fail and fail often.” To some degree, I understand but I am more of a “calculated risk-taker.” I think that is the general approach of going with the highest point of clarity – understand what you know and what you are willing to risk. If you can, you can mitigate the risk, at times.
We are in confusing times, in many aspects of our lives. Some are being challenged while some see opportunity – Early in my career, I was told to train to be uncomfortable and the rest will be easy. I think in times like now, that may be beneficial and pertinent to this since “the highest point of clarity” can be quite uncomfortable. Does this raise the question that we should provide some type of training for these types of environment as part of professional development, academic growth, or personal enlightenment?
Great write up, Dan. We tend to freeze up a lot when times get messy or we aren’t sure what is going to happen next. But that is the biggest mistake of all, do not stand still. Be transparent with your team and lean on them in times such as these, working together will make sure you don’t stand still. Best, Jonathan
Thank you Dan, ‘Go to your highest point of clarity’ has been most helpful in this peculiar time of Covid-19.
As a solo entrepreneur, I have always scheduled active alone time in my day – walking and thinking and running things through my mind.
Now, ‘turning my thinking to my highest point’ facilitates the projection of how my specialist offering can be fine-tuned to release practical techniques and strategies as they apply to the solo-state-of-being we find ourselves within, across the globe.
Best wishes, Sandra
Thank you Dan very insightful. By acting upon what you know and admitting when you may not have the answer to certain solutions can ultimately get you to a point of clarity when it seems impractical. By acting hastily without the proper information you jeopardize a fallout with negative implications occurring. Approaching a situation with the the best possible information available to you allows you to make the best informed decision for you at that time. While being in situations that may seem confusing or tumultuous, I find it’s important to go back to the basics of remaining level headed and remaining calm before acting. Although in a normal situation you may have the answer to a certain solution, under stress and discomfort it may not always appear to you right away. I find it important in times where stress or uncertainty may dictate the scenario, to at least know where to find the right answers. I do not know all the answers to everything in the world, nor do I claim to. However, during times of uncertainty when the answer may not necessarily be clear knowing where to find it can be one of your most powerful tools.
Again, thank you for your insight.
What an insightful post! I love your suggestion about reconnecting with your purpose and mission. It really is so important to not allow the small picture to overshadow the big picture. This “keep your eyes on the prize” mentality is a reminder to let go of what is insignificant, prioritize what aligns with the greater goal, and focus your energy on the steps and decisions that are constructive towards the mission. I also love how you relate progress during uncertainty as stumbling forward and bandaging your knee. It’s important to make informed decisions on the best available information and work through brainstorming problems as they arise. Being open and flexible is crucial for this progress to occur as uncertainty is a fluid and dynamic process. You have to be able to roll with the punches and think on your toes given the information you do have without letting confusion cloud your judgement, as you mentioned. In addition, the nature of uncertainty requires short-term solutions to accommodate for the fluidity of the situation. Long-term solutions are complicated by the unknown variables and can lead to further confusion. Focusing on the short-term also allows you to prioritize more effectively by addressing the problems that require the most immediate attention first.
Clarity in the workplace can often be clouded by situations at home or high stress situations that have changed your attitude and mind set for the time being. To maintain clarity, it is important to keep work and home life separated. If for some reason you cannot for a day, that may not be the best day for making important decisions as they will more likely be emotional based rather than well thought out decisions. Failures and other distractions that may have come about in other situations will absolutely increase stress and may cause a leader to act on impulse or with unclear judgement. The same can be said, however, for those acting at the peak of clarity. Not having any fear of a potential negative outcome and a high of confidence may lead to rapid judgement calls. It may also lead an individual to not take into account the thoughts or ideas of their team, as well as feeling bigger or that they are able to achieve greater tasks on their own. Which will likely lead to less success for the time being. I do feel however, that these possibilities at the peak of clarity are less likely to happen than those with limited clarity.