Clean the Space

Clear the Space

Have you ever looked in your refrigerator for something that you know is there, but you just can’t find it? You move the pickles, you take out the mayonnaise, you look behind the leftover meat loaf, but you still can’t see what you’re looking for. Finally, you are hit with a blinding flash of the obvious: you need to clean out the refrigerator!

Doing the Impossible

President John Kennedy understood the incredible power of simplicity and focus, and he used it to help drive the United States of America to accomplish a seemingly impossible goal – putting a man on the moon. In the early 1960’s, for reasons involving the need for progress and the pressures of the cold war with Russia, President John Kennedy and his advisors determined that accomplishing the goal of putting a man on the moon should become a priority for our nation.

Plain Spoken and Clearly Defined

Whether it’s your vision, your mission, your family values, or your goals for the year, try and make it 20 words or less. Write it so that a child can understand it. Many people have fallen into the trap of thinking that the more complicated something is, the more effective or powerful or useful it must be. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Remember Who You Are

The value of focus and clarity is as true for a family as it is for a business. A very successful and effective leader for a telecommunications company once told me that he got his belief in the importance of clarity from his father, who had one simple and focused message for his children, which he repeated over and over: “Remember who you are.”

A Sense of Purpose and Direction

One great leader who was a master of simplicity and focus was George C. Marshall, the Secretary of State for President Harry Truman. Almost everyone, no matter what political party they belonged to, had great respect for Marshall. It was said of him that “he could distinguish what was important from what was unimportant, and this made him valuable.”

Great Leaders Create Clarity

Great leaders have the ability to simplify and get everyone focused on a shared goal or vision. Years ago I was working with a company that was struggling. The CEO called a meeting of his top leadership team to discuss how to get the company back on track. The CEO’s speech to the team was a tirade of dissatisfaction, frustration, and anger, which he ended by shouting “Every one of you has to go back and get your people on board! That is the most important thing I expect from you, to get everyone on board!”

Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?

Today at the Five Friends Business Summit, I talked about Sir Peter Blake leading Team New Zealand to successive victories in the America’s Cup yacht competition in 1995 and 2000. The key to this success was that Blake focused the team on one question which they asked about every thing that they did. The question was simply this: “Will it make the boat go faster?”

What Are Your Three Things?

One of my clients is a national trucking company. This is a business that involves logistics, systems, schedules, and details that could easily become overwhelmingly complicated. Yet this trucking company, which is one of the largest in the country, has harnessed the power of simplicity and focus to drive consistent success for years.

The Price We Pay

One of my clients, the CEO of an international agriculture business, said, “The price we pay for making things too complicated is immeasurable. It slows us down, makes for bad decisions, and scatters our efforts.” Indeed. Think about those three parts of the “price we pay” for making things too complicated: