Getting Rid of Excess

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In the last few years, minimalism has become a pretty important trend. People are thinking carefully about what they bring into their lives, giving more consideration to what they spend their money on and where they place their efforts. There is a shift away from excess, which caused me to wonder…

How have we gotten to the place that we simply have too much?

There are multiple reasons of course, but the one that I want to explore is a lack of clarity. Without clarity we have chaos and frustration. Without clarity, we wind up making decisions based on lack of information, which can result in wrong choices and future burdens. Without clarity, we increase the likelihood of a mess that will need to be cleaned up later.

This happens not only in our personal lives, but our professional lives as well. Let’s explore some places where enhanced clarity might be beneficial.

1. Roles and responsibilities – We get frustrated when people veer out of their “lane” and into ours, but this often happens because people are unaware of where their responsibility ends, and someone else’s begins. It’s crucial that everyone be aware of exactly what they are supposed to be doing and what success looks like. Tools to assist with this include job descriptions, project plans, charters and expectations.

2. Language – Most people have a tendency to assume people see the world just as they do. This is also true when it comes to language. In all actuality, people have vastly different understanding of words, particularly ones that you hear frequently in business like “transparency” “leadership” or “collaboration.” When you find this happening, it’s a good idea to stop and get everyone on the same page. Saying something as simple as “how are you defining ______” can help enhance clarity.

3. Ask clarifying questions – I have a friend who is better at this than anyone I know. When I first met her, I noticed that when people would share information, she would stop them periodically and check in on the details. For example, someone would say “we went to the party” and she’d say, “okay, now who is we?” I hadn’t had a lot of experience seeing anyone do this but was intrigued and impressed by it. I realized that her noticing these details helped her better follow the story, resulting in enhanced understanding.

It’s likely we don’t do these things for one of several reasons. First, we probably don’t even realize we aren’t being clear, and we may even assume the other person is really the problem. Another concern may be one of vulnerability, we may assume people will think we are stupid or that we don’t know what’s going on. Whatever the reason, even if we don’t intend to be vague or confusing, that is ultimately the net effect.

Minimalism is needed because we made a mess that now needs to be cleaned up.

If you want to minimize chaos and frustration, consider this your call to action: starting today, be fearless about any spaces (literal or physical) in your life that lack clarity. Ask questions, explore the boundaries, establish the definitions…

Your future self will thank you.