Simplicity drives clarity. Clarity generates focus. Focus enhances results. Many years ago, someone challenged my team to assess the scope of our product and service offerings. We were doing a lot of things, and we were doing them well. The bigger question was, were they the right things?
This is an ever-present questions for leaders. If you’ve been fortunate enough to assemble a team of talented men and women, you have little worry about the quality of their work. However, you should always be concerned about whether it’s the right work or not.
That was the question we were facing. Were we doing the right work? The consultant gave us an assignment I’ll never forget: “Tell me what you do… in two words.”
“Two words?? You’ve got to be kidding! We do so many things,” we said. The consultant’s response, “Pull up. What do you do – in two words?”
The question and the challenge to state it so succinctly continues to help me when I encounter an individual, a team or an organization where there is not clarity.
I’ve thought about this question myself. Although I sell chicken for a living, those are not my two words; they are: Serve Leaders. That’s why I write books, blog, speak, mentor, and it’s why I place such a priority on learning and growing myself. I realize I’ve got to put my oxygen mask on first if I’m going to be of any value to others.
Knowing specifically what you do has real advantages. Your two words can not only provide direction, they can be a filter for what you choose to do and what you choose not to do as well. Here’s an example.
I get quite a few invitations to speak. Since I’m clear on my two words, it’s the rare exception when I speak to a group that doesn’t contain a high percentage of leaders. I have limited time to invest and so do you. I want to invest my time in alignment with my two words whenever I can.
I’ve also discovered another benefit of this level of hyper clarity. While driving down a highway in Texas not long ago, I ran across a Bell Helicopter factory. There was a huge billboard outside with a picture of a menacing looking chopper hovering above a dusty landscape at sunset. It was a great photograph, but the message was even more powerful. The caption was simple:
Bell Helicopter… Ensuring Freedom.
This reminded me that beyond clarity, if your two words are chosen carefully, they can also be inspiring.[GLS_Shield]
What are your two words?