Let me ask you this: Did you always have clarity about what you wanted to do, or did your ideas shift once you started putting them into action?
For me, I always knew I wanted to be my own boss (I definitely inherited my dad’s entrepreneurial spirit). I also knew I wanted to be in business and in marketing. It was what I studied and what continued to interest me.
But it wasn’t until I started actually doing those things that I gained some clarity about just how I wanted to chisel out my own niche in business. I realised over time that while marketing was in fact my thing, it wasn’t marketing in general that stirred me out of bed in the morning. It was marketing for introverted women (like myself) and helping them master the skills they needed to create their own success.
Over time, my passions and vision have held steady — I’m still driven to connect women in meaningful, empowering ways — but my understanding of who, what and how has shifted (and continues to do so).
That’s because while clarity is an outcome (as I talked about in the context of my annual CEO Day), it’s also a process.
In my experience, clarity comes from doing. It comes from action. It comes from being willing to evolve and shift and try new things.
Clarity won’t necessarily come overnight. If you’ve planned your CEO (Clarity – Expression – Optimism) Day – excellent! You’ve taken a step towards greater clarity.
But, as I’ve learned, don’t expect it to be instantaneous.
Rather, embrace it as a process that is ever-unfolding.
For those of us who are introverted, the pursuit of perfection often stops us in our tracks. Or we might put things off because we feel like our idea or plan isn’t crystal clear yet in our minds. Or we spend far too much time mulling over the millions of choices we have (because we are running our own businesses and while that choice can be exhilarating at first, it can also be debilitating…).
But the idea of waiting for total clarity before working on our business is a bit like the myth of creativity with great artists – the myth that creativity strikes in a moment of divine inspiration. In reality (at least a lot of the time), creativity comes through hard work, persistence and DOING.
A great artist herself, Twyla Tharp, an American dancer and choreographer whose ballets have premiered around the world, puts it succinctly. She says:
“You can only generate ideas when you put pencil to paper, brush to canvas… when you actually do something physical.”
Clarity about your business won’t just wash over you unexpectedly. (Of course, we all have those wonderful ah ha! moments at times… and, hopefully, we pay attention to them when they happen). But most of the time, clarity comes from hard work. From trying different approaches. From experimenting and taking risks. From failing gracefully. From trying again.
Like creativity, clarity comes from ACTION. From putting fingers to keyboard. From walking into that networking event. From making a coffee date with a prospective client. From hitting the send button.
It doesn’t come from waiting for perfection or absolute certainty – something we introverts tend to do (right?).
So, let me go ahead and say it again: Clarity is not only an outcome; it’s also a process. And that means it takes practice.
So, what step can you take — today? What can you do to get your momentum rolling? What can you take a chance on? How can you break out of the analysis-paralysis and give it a shot?
Because here’s the thing: Even if it doesn’t go as planned, you will have learned something valuable. By taking action, you will have gained greater clarity.
Have you been hesitant to reach out to potential clients because you haven’t perfected your elevator pitch yet? Or maybe you’re stuck on whether Pinterest or Facebook is the right social marketing platform for you.
By taking some steps forward – by trying some things out – your confidence will grow and you’ll discover answers to your own questions. The more you talk about your business idea, the more refined your pitch will naturally become. The more you interact with your target audience, the more insights you’ll gain (and you’ll have a deeper understanding of how to engage with them).
Or it might be as simple as starting a daily journaling habit to simply get ideas and questions and concerns out of your head. (This is something I do pretty much daily. I definitely recommend it for those of you who feel like you have too many tabs open in your head all the time.)
Clarity will come through the work. Through the effort. Through the reflection (again, part of the process of your CEO Day). It’s a bit like a runner’s high. (I know, for a non-runner, here I am using yet another running analogy!) You might have to slog through some quad-burning miles on your run before the endorphins let loose, but if you’re putting one foot in front of the other, then you’re that much closer to the euphoric rush, to the moment of hard-earned clarity.
And then what? Then you keep re-examining, re-tooling, shifting and adjusting. While I felt like I started my CEO Day with greater clarity this year than I have in the past, my business has evolved. I’ve evolved. So, what ‘clarity’ means at the moment continues to morph.
So, are you ready to embrace not just the outcome, but the process?
Clarity awaits – for those willing to work for it.
Is there something you already do in your day-to-day life when you’re seeking clarity personally? Do you go for a walk on the beach or hit the gym? I’d love to hear in the comments below what helps you clear some mental space.