Take that Critical Clarity Break™

Take that Critical Clarity Break™

So, you’re a leader – the confident, omnipotent person that knows where you are going and how to get there. Never wavering, exuding confidence and clarity at all times, right??  The reality is, we all struggle at times as leaders with both confidence and clarity.

During the Holiday Season when the craziness pulls us in every direction at once, it can be easy to forget ourselves. We hop on the hamster wheel of events and go into survival mode, leaving us feeling scattered and worn out. We survive until the holidays, then return in January with a general concept of what our company will accomplish in the next year, but nothing specific. Basically, our company is like a rudderless ship.

To find time for planning when there isn’t much time available isn’t easy. I know, I have struggled with this discipline myself. Something has to go if you want a ship with a rudder!  Rework your schedule to “find” time. A good motivator for me to shift priorities is to remember that I owe it to my team. I am driven by team success, so this works well for me. I ask them to execute their role well and this is simply part of my role.

Pausing to reflect is key to strong clarity and confidence. I guarantee that you will truly benefit if you take some dedicated time and think about the “big picture.” In the EOS™ world, we call these Clarity Breaks™.  In the latest EOS™ book, How to be a Great Boss, Clarity Breaks™ are one of the five essential practices to becoming a great leader.

I want to give you a roadmap for an effective year-end Clarity Break™. So, here is a suggested agenda you could use; adjust as you see fit if you have already completed your annual planning. You may want to be mindful of the time per step and use a timer if needed.

  1. Schedule the time
  2. Reflect
  3. Take the pulse of today
  4. Look forward
  5. Game plan
  6. Follow up
1. Schedule the Time – Today

Real reflection takes time – focused time free of distractions and interruptions. To get to the meat of where you are and where you want to go, take a couple of hours minimum – or ideally, a full day. Block the time and find a space where you can be alone, completely disconnected from the outside world (gasp!) and just do it, all by yourself.  I have to admit, I was almost scared of this alone time at first. I have trouble slowing down, but this practice has been a huge part of my success. Get it in the calendar – TODAY.

2. Reflect

I have found it extremely rewarding to think back to where it all began and compare it to where I am now. This keeps things in perspective. We’ve come a long way, so far!  

Consider these questions as you reflect:

  • What am I particularly grateful for?
  • What were those really high points in the past year?
  • What didn’t go the way you wanted and why?
  • Where are you stuck and why? Explore as a company and as a person.
  • What did you learn – from both the victories and failures?
  • Where are you “the problem”?
  • Are there recurring themes or patterns – in either the victories or challenges?
  • What REALLY drives you? What gives you energy? (There is some real magic here that I will discuss in a future post.)

Now, let go of the past and look to the future.

3. Take the Pulse of Today

A great exercise to assess where we are today is called, Start – Stop – ContinueWrite out the things you want to ‘start’ doing, ‘stop’ doing and those to ‘continue.’ Allow yourself some time to jot down a list of items in all three areas. If you have time, consider the four core areas of life:  professional, personal, family, and community. Get real here, don’t fool yourself. Create a good list of big and small influences. This will set us up for the next step, looking forward.


Bonus work: To take this to another level, think big picture for your life and really look hard at this list. Is there is one particular obstacle or goal that would transform your life as it influences all four areas? If you come to this realization, congratulations, this is quite the victory! Now, doing something about this can be deep, powerful work and it deserves a master coach to help you on this journey. I know some amazing life coaches that I would be happy to connect you to if you are interested.


4. Looking Forward

Now for the fun stuff. We need to create some clarity in our head about where we’re going. It has to be clear enough, that we can tell other people about it. Do this exercise to get you started:

  • Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and visualize the future.
  • What does your life look like in 3 years’ time?
    • Think about details and create a personal picture.
      • What are doing during the day?
      • Who you spend your time with?
      • Where is your house? What does it look like?
      • What do you look like?
      • Now, write it down!
    • Then dive into the company.
      • What does your company look like in 3 years?
      • What is it doing?
      • What has changed?
      • What is your role there?

Write it all down! This work prepares us for the next step, which is creating a real game plan.

5. Create a Game Plan

Next, what do you have to do in the next 12 months to make the 3-Year Picture come alive – both personally and professionally? Set goals in order to make this happen. Less is more – no more than five, highly important goals. You can’t do everything in the next 12 months, as much as we’d all like to.

Actionable Steps – the next 90 days
Let’s really take this to the ground now. What absolutely has to happen in the next 90 days, so you can reach your 12-month goals? Rough out concepts and bring them to your team/company.

With respect to your company, I suggest doing this whole exercise with your leadership team, so everyone is engaged with creating the 3-Year Picture, 1-Year Plan and Quarterly Rocks™ (priorities).  This process is similar to what I do when I help leadership teams implement EOS™. Your initial efforts will prepare you for this larger team exercise. Bottom line, find a good system and work it.  

6. Follow Up

Ultimately, we need to make this actually happen! Keep this work top of mind. Professionally, we need to hold each other accountable to this plan. Meet regularly to check in and support where you are struggling. On a personal level, I suggest an accountability partner to regularly share wins and challenges.

After you pause, reflect and plan, you’ll find you have greater clarity and confidence as a leader. You will understand yourself better and set yourself up for more relaxing holidays and an exciting, successful, FOCUSED year ahead.  Now, go make it happen. It starts with step 1, scheduling the time for your next Clarity Break™.

If you, or someone you know, would like help navigating this kind of planning with the leadership team, I would love to have a conversation about how I can help you achieve Vision, Traction and Healthy in your company through EOS™ Implementation. Let’s book a time to chat. Or you can download the EOS™ Tools for FREE.

This blog is a work of passion for me. I would love to hear what you think of my musings, please comment below with your ideas/feedback as it is such an involved topic.

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Chris Jones is a seasoned, award-winning entrepreneur who gets a serious charge out of helping leaders navigate their way through powerful, transformative growth in their business and ultimately, their lives. He is a full time, Certified EOS™ Implementer.

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  1. Pingback: The Hardest Work for Leaders | Strategic Traction

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