What does clarity cost you?

“Having the knowledge but lacking the power to express it clearly is no better than never having any ideas at all.”

Pericles said this in 5th century BC.

Sometimes the best ideas are the oldest ones.

We all want clarity.

With clarity we have direction.

We gain momentum.

We can rally others to join our mission.

And we free ourselves from the halting paralysis of confusion and complexity.

Clarity is possible…

And it comes with trade offs.

What are the costs?

Words

You can’t use all of them.

Many of your favourite ones are either too general, too complex, or carry a lot of baggage for other people that may distract from your intention.

Short, simple, specific is the way to go.

Variety

We have infinite ways to talk about a thing. It gets worse, the more we know about something. Every time we say something differently, we add to the confusion. Ever play broken telephone?

Clarity needs consistency.

Improv

You really can’t wing it, as much as you think you can, especially the more expert you are. Look no further than politicians in interview situations. They’re clear on the key messages and they’re (most of them) pros at NOT veering from them. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, campaign slogans provide clarity.

Pick 3 messages and stick to them.

(See more on the rule of three here)

Iteration

It takes people hearing something 7x before it sticks. If you change it before they understand it in the first place, you’re not only starting over, you’re undoing some of what they thought they knew in the first place.

Clarity needs constancy.

(See more on the Rule of 7, here)

Just in case consistency and constancy sound the same to you (because a lot of people ask this question):

Consistency = say the same thing

Constancy = say it over and over and over again

It’s just that simple.

Clarity is short. It’s sweet. And it sticks.

One more thing…

Clarity is necessary, but it’s not everything. Clarity doesn’t equal motivation. Knowing the destination doesn’t mean you want to go there.

Inspiration does that. And for that you need a compelling reason to do it in the first place.

We can talk about that another time.

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