How to develop clarity of thought & action?
As a leader, people look up to you to show them direction.
They count on you to see what they cannot see.
They feel protected because you are watching.
They bet on you to show them a better future.
As a leader, you can view this as a huge blessing or a huge curse: Blessing - if you have confidence in yourself to rise up to the occasion; Curse - if you feel you are going to let them down.
In my coaching conversations, I do observe, several leaders getting overwhelmed with carrying people's expectations on their shoulders. Sometimes, the future is very uncertain and they themselves don't have the answers yet. The most discussed challenge is how to show direction to someone else, when you are not clear yourself?
The good news is at any moment, there are things in your control that you could be/do to enhance your ability to experience clearly.
There are two tools at your disposal that aid in clarity - the senses & the mind.
Both these tools have to be at their perceptive best to help you to be clear.
How do we optimally use our senses and our mind to achieve clarity?
1. Tuning the edge: You would have noticed most musicians tune their instruments before the concert. It's a usual practice to check the instrument's readiness to play. Similarly, it pays to tune our dominant senses before we start our work day. Our senses are capable of capturing much more than what our mind can make sense of at run time. For eg, our peripheral vision (vision at the edge of our eyes) can capture any movement even though the object may not be in our line of sight. When you begin your work day, tuning your dominant senses (eyes & ears) can be pretty helpful to assess your readiness. Take any object near you and describe what you can see with your eyes - shape, colour, texture etc. without interpretations from the mind. For eg - if a a water bottle is near you, notice that it is cylindrical in shape, blue in colour and smooth in texture (sensory input). Discount the thought, "I love this water bottle because it keeps the temperature of water cold", which is an interpretation. Listen to the nearby sound and farthest sound with your ears. This will require your complete attention to the the sense of hearing. Tuning your dominant senses in the morning is a good way to start your day.You can know more from Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine.
2.Tuning the core: Our mind is the processor that synthesises sensory input and wields out information that we could readily use for our thought and action. Checking where our attention is an indicator of where our mind is. If its caught in what happened in the past or what will happen in the future, everything will appear hazy. However if the attention is in the here and now, there is a possibility of clarity to emerge. Randomly write your thoughts for 1 minute as they arise. Scan through them to see how many are with respect to the present moment. You would find that there are several recycled thoughts from the past and some guess work on the future. Bringing attention to your breathing is the simplest way to bring your attention to the present moment. When you feel overwhelmed, or lacking in clarity, bring your attention to your breath.
3. Break state: During the day, if you feel stuck it pays to take a break for a minute to do some activity different from the one before. You could do a small calculation in your head, sing a note, take a walk, stretch at your desk. Any activity that involves the body and mind together has a greater possibility to engage different set of neutrons in your brain and create a break state. Break states open up possibilities after they are over.
While we take steps to improve our presence for clarity, its all important to have realistic expectations of what clarity is. Clarity need not always be a destination because we do live in a VUCA world. It could be about direction: It could be about the very next step, the one small thing that you could do, the one assumption you could hold. This holds the possibility of the big picture to emerge in the future.
What do you do to bring clarity to your thought and action?