Lack of clarity about what needs to be done is one of today’s worst ongoing workplace practices. When dealing with this from bosses and peers alike:
Ask: “How do you define success?” Never leave a meeting or take on an assignment until you have clarity on this. If the company or your boss is constantly fuzzy on this, make a pain in the ass of yourself until you get clarity. (If you don’t, don’t blame anyone else for all the challenges that follow!)
Ask: “Can you help me prioritize?” Everybody expects everything done right away. Yet that’s impossible! Keep going back to your boss until you get the top three things that have to be done that day or that week.
Ask: “What’s the most important takeaway?” Everybody is good at communicating everything. Few are good at clarifying the one thing that matters most. Every meeting, every exchange — keep pressing for the most important takeaway until you get it.
2. Model Clarity
Ghandi is quoted as saying, “Be the change you want to see.” That applies here. Every meeting, every exchange — make sure you communicate clear and concise answers to the three questions above.
Deep clarity really does shake things up. In a world filled with overload, clutter and crap, the radical successes we cite always work hard to be simple and clear.
Additional tip: Know, Feel, Do…Fast! Everyone you communicate with wants three things as fast and as simply as possible:
• “What’s the one thing you want me to know?”• “Connect with me emotionally. What’s the one thing you want me to feel?”• “What’s the one thing you want me to do?”
Continually convey those three things and you will be cited for awesome clarity.
3. Do It Anyway. Stop Listening to “No”
It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission. It’s time to live this to the max.
Yes, if you work within a bureaucratic bog, this may be scary. But you have no choice. The world is moving faster than your boss. Every successful leader I’ve ever worked with or interviewed has said that they followed this approach long before it was politically safe for them to do so.
4. Think Epic. Be Epic.
Audacity matters. Incrementalism (as in playing it safe) is death.
We are in an era of continuous personal disruption. Social-media guru Chris Brogan said it best: “There is no solid ground anymore.” That means you have to go bold to find new ground.
Every leader and company and product that we celebrate today made a bold move long before it was safe to do so. Start thinking and being bolder. Now.
Which leads to the most challenging of all ways to shake things up…
5. Disrupt Yourself
You are capable of so much more than you are doing right now.
And yet, if you are like so many of us, you suffer from Pogo Syndrome — named for the 1940s cartoon character who uttered: We have met the enemy and he is us.
The biggest and boldest and best way to shake things up at work is to disrupt yourself. Unlearn faster. Change your assumptions faster. Focus more on being resilient and adapting than on creating stability. Be an insatiable learner.
Start there and you will truly be a disruptive hero — to those you work with, to those who love you, and to yourself.
Bill Jensen’s new book, “Disrupt! Think Epic. Be Epic,” is based on interviews with 100 disruptive heroes. He blogs at simplerwork.com.