Episode 1 from the “Magic” Formula for Success
Happiness. Success. Meaningful rapports – with oneself, others, and the world. We all strive to achieve these states, but, somehow, they prove elusive. Think about all the successful or happy people (or both) you have ever encountered: don’t they seem somehow wrapped in magic, don’t they have a certain aura as if they found some charmed potion which helps them along? A potion you know for sure that works, and for which you might have the ingredients, but alas! you do not have the “magic” formula. And you think to yourself “if only had I access to it…”
I will not claim to have found the magic formula; nevertheless, in the following weeks, I will try to show you how to mix the ingredients you already have and how to create your own formula. I cannot guarantee it will be “magic”, but I can promise you it will help you work your own magic in transforming your life for the better, be it at a personal level or the professional one.
These ingredients you already have – whether you know it or not. Over the following months I will give you my insight on all of them, but for now, I will focus on the fundamental ingredient for a successful life, the most important of them all: clarity.
What is clarity? Clarity is defined as the state of being clear, either in appearance, thought, or style or being free from indistinctness or ambiguity; to name a few synonyms: accuracy, brightness, certainty, directness, lucidity, precision, purity, simplicity, transparency. These words – their meaning – will help in the quest for clarity when you assess different situations of your life. You can have clarity of mind, of purpose, of goals, of communication, of decision making. Clarity is one of the qualities successful people constantly strive for.
Why is clarity important? Clarity is the primary force that helps you achieve what you want, and for that, a clear mind is the best tool you can have. When you have clarity of mind, of wishes, of goals, everything gets easier. Living intentionally depends on it. When you are clear about what makes you happy, healthy, successful, chances are that you will become happier, healthier, more successful. I believe the big difference between successful and unsuccessful people lies in the clarity with which they assess everything, from their sense of self (who they are), to where they want to go (their goals), to how they want to get there (their plans), or how they relate to their new-found success (their values, morals, objective assessment of results and moving forward).
How to achieve clarity? Thankfully, clarity is not a personality trait that some have and others don’t. Nobody can “have” clarity. It can be achieved, with discipline, hard work, and purpose. Clarity is achieved by generating and sorting ideas, writing them down, asking questions, researching, and trying new things. The goal is to be able to say anytime: I know who I am, I know what I want, I know how to get there, and I have a clear plan to achieve all I want. It is as simple as that; not an easy exercise, though. For that, you have to be able to ask yourself the right questions. The quality of your results will depend on the quality of your questions. Clarity comes only when you think straightforward and clean, are aware of what is really important to you, and let go of all the rest. Get clear about what matters by getting rid of what does not.
And now, the fun part – some exercises that will show you ways to achieve clarity.
Make a decision. Decisions are a great tool to achieve clarity and to sharpen an overwhelmed mind. The Latin word for decision (decidere) literally means “to cut off.” Making a decision is about “cutting off” choices. You choose one thing and move on. But don’t be mistaken! An integral part of the decision-making process is knowing how to live with the consequences of that decision. In other words, even if you wanted to you couldn’t change your mind if the results don’t please you. If the elements of the equation stay constant, you will have to stick to your decision, and live with the outcome! Decisions help in getting ahead and making progress. Start small. For example, decide you will not eat beef anymore, only chicken; or you will not wake up at 06:30am, but at 06:20am; or you will have your last caffeinated drink of the day no later than 04:00pm. Doesn’t seem so hard, does it? But it will instil a kind of discipline that will allow you to make better decisions in the future, in all areas of your life. The mind is a tricky thing – if you could forego those 10 minutes of extra sleep in the morning, why wouldn’t you be able to go those extra 10 minutes in the gym? If you could give up beef, why couldn’t you give up sugar? If you could contain your caffeine intake, it means you could contain your toxic best friends’ intrusion into your life… Everything is interconnected, all can be rewired and rewritten. Think about that, the next time you make a decision.
The famous author Yuval Noah Harari believes in the power of clarity. His work stands out because of his ability to see things clearly and objectively. He achieves clarity through two hours meditation sessions and an annual 60 day silent retreat. For us, mortals, this may be hard to achieve, but start with a 5-10 min. long meditation session, and try to increase over time. With consistency and discipline, you will get to 30 min. sessions, and then, in no time, you will probably be able to join the same silent retreat as our beloved Harari.
Bill Gates thinks that it was his clarity of thought and execution that has made him a success. Since 1994 he has established for himself the so called “Think Week”, where he takes time off, cuts off everything else, and thinks about the “big picture”. This is his tool for clarity and for thinking out of the box.
What helps me, personally, get clarity? I usually follow the next steps:
- I remove distractions – everything I deem unimportant or unnecessary.
- I focus on identifying what matters – I prioritize.
- I ask the necessary quality questions. If necessary, I learn about the topic to eliminate insecurities.
- I write down all answers.
- I cut down whatever is not essential.
- I put it in a frame, with clear figures, dates and a plan to follow.
I know, all this is no rocket science. Nevertheless, exercising your way to clarity will bring a lot of benefits in your life. You will feel more confident about yourself, about your future, and you will express your thoughts and wishes in a more articulate way. Try it! If you ever felt you lacked a sense of direction, you will, at the very least, regain the feeling that you are in control of what matters most to you.
I believe there are many other ways to achieve clarity. But none are magic. What will be magic, in the end, will be the result you get after you put in the work, the will, and the purpose. It will be your magic! 😉
Are you ready for it?
Do you have an exercise on achieving clarity? I would be happy to hear more at: firstname.lastname@example.org