Today’s blog entry is by guest blogger Eliza Cortés Bast
Eliza is a Ministry Leader and Strategist. You can find her on Instagram @elizacortesbast.
I quickly pulled the piece of paper from my bag as I sat at my desk. A few weeks prior, I had committed to journeying alongside someone in a time of transition. I promised that I would help find resources, and would pray and help hold them accountable in ways that helped them grow. I was getting ready to follow up with a phone call as I opened their list of priorities they had written down for me. Family, discernment around work, health all made the list in his hasty handwriting. As I surveyed for the top priority, I stopped cold. What in the world? Spindoodly?
I squinted. I turned the paper sideways. I held it closer to my face. Spindoodly.
I drummed my fingers on the table, wondering how I was going to resource or pray about spindoodly. I also realized that my deadline to check in was an hour away, and I had zero idea what the most important thing on his heart was. Much like the old Seinfeld bit…do I take this to other people for interpretation? Do I fake it? I was completely immobilized as I tried to faithfully discern the priority for the upcoming year.
Clarity is Kindness.
For years, I have told the young people I mentor and the staff in my office that “clarity is kindness.” In a sea of overwhelming changing contexts, creating clarity is one of the kindest things you can give to those around you. In the Old Testament, we see time and again how God uses confusion to “thwart armies,” knowing that confusion in the camp can mean the difference between winning and losing. Unclear expectations, uncommon language, and a lack of information can undo the work of even the greatest of armies… and leaders.
Clarity empowers teams to decide.
When an organization or team is clear about the priorities, mission, or values, it is a kindness to people within and outside of the organization. People are able to clearly self-select if they want to continue to engage with the organization. Donors understand what their contributions are going towards. Employees are able to discern whether their internal values align with the company.
It also helps teams correctly assess their resources, programs, and contributions. If our organization’s mission is around children, do we consider opportunities around clean water? Education? It empowers teams to decide what their best “yes” is, and where they can say a kind, yet decisive “no.”
Clarity empowers teams to deliver.
Jim Collins, writing for Peter Drucker, once noted that fearless focus on mission helps teams achieve their goals. Fearless focus aligns the mission and resources in ways that accelerate performance. When there is “confusion in the camp,” it is easy for low performers to hide in the chaos. It is also easy for high performers to burn out quickly because busy-ness has been confused with productivity. Clarity gives space for honest feedback and encouragement for your lagging performers. It also gives sharp intention to your highest performers.
Employees and volunteers are no longer busy to just be busy. Outcomes and objectives are clear. The organization knows when they have accomplished their mission. That means it can appropriately set rhythms of running hard and resting well.
Clarity empowers teams to dream.
Dreaming is not without discipline. Mature dreamers know that defined boxes beg for outrageous creativity. But you need to know where the limits are. Enigmatic constraints feel like shackles – intractable ghosts and sacred cows. However, clearly defined constraints emerge as challenges that can be overcome or guardrails that keep the organization safe.
Borders and boundaries feel less and less like fences, and more like defined sandboxes for creative play when they are clear. Dreamers, futurists, and creators in the room understand what is at stake. Meanwhile, executors, deliberators and achievers can also relax, knowing that the organization is not creating a mountain of work and risk. There are boundaries. And they are clear.
I had no choice. I had sat so long looking at this scrap of paper. I picked up the phone.
“I am so grateful for your list. I am committing to pray for you! But I have to tell you… I have no idea what your top priority is. I have been staring and staring at it, so I have nothing for you. What in the world does it say?” I clenched my eyes shut, waiting for the answer.
“Aren’t you a person of faith? I want to work on my spirituality. That’s why I asked you.” Spindoodly.
We recommend the following resources to help you or those you coach build skills that can result in clarity:
Effective Delegation Series- When the expectations you have on yourself and for others are clear things run smoothly. These resources focus on building skills that help in determining the best way to handle projects and how to get the help you need.
Effective Listening Series- Being a good listener is just as important as making your ideas clear to others. These resources focus on skills that help build concentration and active listening for better communication.
Goals & Objectives Series- If you don’t know where you are going, you certainly won’t get there. These resources are designed to help you grow in your ability to set and follow through on clear goals and objectives.
Communication Series- A key path to clarity is found in excellent communication skills. Use these resources to help you pinpoint where growth is needed and then hone communication skills to be more effective.