Uncommon Clarity, Inc.
Newsletter, Fall 2005

Welcome to Clear Thoughts from Uncommon Clarity

In This Issue
  • Introductory Thoughts
  • Book Thoughts - A lesson from an unfinished book
  • Quick Thoughts - Feeling Buried? Time to Regroup!
  • Parting Thoughts - Wisdom
  • Your Thoughts

  • Book Thoughts - A lesson from an unfinished book

    It is amazing that I always remember the name and author of this book I barely started decades ago. And since our memories tend to rewrite history, it is possible that the lesson I believe I learned, and that I always have ascribed to this book, has morphed into something entirely different from what I read. Nonetheless, this lesson has influenced me and returned to me countless times throughout my career:

    • If you try to do something to others, you will likely fail.
    • If you try to do something with others, you are more likely to succeed.


    • Do you walk into a room expecting to wow people without knowing who is there and whether they came to be wowed?
    • Do you assume you have the solution to someone else's problem before you have talked with them about obectives and current state?
    • Do you do all the talking when helping someone with their problem?
    • Do you do all the talking when reviewing someone's job performance?

    It is simply disrespectful and illogical to think the other party in human interaction is irrelevant.

    But if you come to listen and to share the value you have to offer, you may find a way to contribute. This is a principle that guides my life and my business. Some day, maybe I'll go back and finish that book: The Only Dance There Is by Ram Dass

    Quick Thoughts - Feeling Buried? Time to Regroup!

    Readers tell me they are so caught up in daily details that they don't have time to step back and figure out where they are. They feel scattered, overwhelmed, and tired of running in high gear. Here is a quick method for reconsidering WHAT goes on your To-Do list, followed by 3 tips for getting things OFF the list.


    Make a list of everything that is BOTHERING you. Big things and little things. Don't think much, just write quickly.

    Spend a little time with this mix of worries, plans, problems, and objectives. What is this list really telling you?

    • Do you see things that are getting in the way of doing what you think you are supposed to be doing?
    • Do you see things that are closely related, or problems that are the root cause of other problems?
    • Do you see things that really aren't your concern?
    • Do you see things that worry you but that you either can't fix or don't really need to fix?

    With a little practice, the insights from this mix of items will help you quickly rethink the content of your To-Do list.

    Now lets look at some tips to help you finish things and get them OFF your To-Do list:

    1. I is for Information or Ideas Needed

    Some of the tasks on your list probably deserve to be marked with a big I: Information or Ideas Needed. These are tasks for which you do not have enough information or expertise to handle efficiently and effectively.

    These items are often at the core of your feelings of being overwhelmed. Even while working on something completely different, these are likely to be gnawing at the back of your mind. These tasks are also the ones that often hang out on your To-Do list the longest.

    The I tells you that you need to find some help:

    • clarity of purpose,
    • better instruction,
    • a specific method or plan of attack,
    • advice,
    • someone to bounce ideas around with,
    • or more extensive help.
    Until you get the information you need, you will be playing at the edges of these tasks rather than making real progress. It is much easier to identify the help you need than to solve the problem without help. And often, just trying to identify the help you need makes the problem clearer and points you to a solution.

    2. B is for Big Block of Time Needed

    Some tasks require time to concentrate without interruption. Mark these with a big B. In this day and age of multi-tasking, we are often interrupt- driven. Worse, we are so accustomed to being interrupted that we constantly interrupt ourselves.

    To tackle the B problems:

    • choose a time and place with fewer demands,
    • give yourself a specific time period to work,
    • turn off the email alert,
    • forward the phone,
    • hang out a do-not-disturb sign, and
    • don't interrupt yourself until the time period expires or the task is complete.

    3. :( is for the Tasks you Hate!

    Tackling the hated tasks will be easier if you:

    • tell yourself that prolonging the agony only makes the pain worse, and
    • set a deadline and reward yourself once the task is complete
    • or, an alternative is to shame yourself into action: "Any self-respecting ____ would be embarrassed to admit this task is still undone a half hour from now!"


    Rank tasks by importance, something you've undoubtedly done before. Be sure your sense of importance ties back to delighting customers, keeping the business strong, or supporting employees doing one of the former.

    BUT you won't necessarily DO the tasks in order of importance. The items marked I, B, and :( are not just going to suddenly happen when they rise to the top of your priority list. Use the I's to get the help you need, the B's to plan suitable blocks of time, and the :( to set deadlines and rewards.

    Parting Thoughts - Wisdom

    Wisdom is the reward you get from a lifetime of listening when you'd rather have been talking.


    Your Thoughts

    We hope you found this newsletter interesting and valuable. Please send us your thoughts and comments. We will use your feedback to make improvements. Thanks!

    Ann Latham

    2005 Uncommon Clarity, Inc.

    Introductory Thoughts
    Ann Latham

    The August I'm most familiar with brings hints of fall with cooler nights starting on the 1st of the month. Didn't happen! Some tell me August was normal, others that it was unusually hot. I'm hoping for the latter! In the meantime, I am looking forward to a gorgeous fall in western Massachussetts.

    We help organizations tired of waste, frustrated by ineffective efforts, disappointed with results or unsure in implementation, become more efficient and effective so they save money, improve quality, meet deadlines, and increase customer satisfaction. We specialize in translating operational complexity into manageable action and results. Please contact us for help in achieving your business objectives.

    - Ann Latham

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