Focused, Aligned and Accountable – Unclutter Your Mind and Set Yourself Free!

By Alan Gehringer

dateSun, Dec 29, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

At Rhythm Systems, we coach our clients to develop simple, powerful, long-term, annual and quarterly plans.  One of the ways we do this is to narrow each plan down to 3-5 key priorities to focus on.  This is not always an easy task for our clients and there is always difficulty separating day job activities from priorities that push the individual and company towards accomplishing their long-term goals of profitable growth.

Additionally, most of the business leaders and owners I work with are extremely intelligent, well-read individuals.  Their bookcases are overflowing with business books, and most attend a variety of workshops or conferences each year to learn and improve themselves.  I also like to consider myself a lifelong learner and take in a lot of information.  One challenge that comes with this approach is determining what tools in your toolbox to use and how to simplify your message and approach with your team.  We have all heard of management implementing the "flavor of the month," and this sometimes makes it difficult for our employees to take us seriously and commit to new initiatives.  I have to admit; I, too, have been accused of this while leading organizations.  That brings me to the main theme of this blog.  A couple of years ago, I came across a book that changed the way I thought about leadership.  The book is titled “The Tao of Leadership” by John Heider.   John has interpreted and adapted the teachings of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching to use as a tool when working with leaders and groups.  One of Lao Tzu’s famous quotes you may recognize is “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.John Heider-The Tao of Leadership

Aligned with our approach of keeping things simple and my own desire to simplify my delivery, I want to share one chapter of the book with you that I believe is very powerful.

Chapter 48: Unclutter Your Mind 

Beginners acquire new theories and techniques until their minds are cluttered with options.

Advanced students forget their many options. They allow the theories and techniques that they have learned to recede into the background.

Learn to unclutter your mind. Learn to simplify your work.

As you rely less and less on knowing just what to do, your work will become more direct and powerful.  You will discover that the quality of your consciousness is more potent than any technique, theory, or interpretation.

Learn how fruitful the blocked group or individual suddenly becomes when you give up trying to do just the right thing.1

I think our role as a leader is to simplify our messaging, rely on our intuition and trust our team members to carry out their work.  It is also our job to decipher complex opportunities and present them to our team in a clear, concise manner.  

I was working with a colleague last week on his book, and we were discussing some possible tips to include in the book.  I said, "Let me go back and read the chapters again."  He stopped and said, "Please do not, just speak from your heart and experience.  This is the true essence I am trying to get from you."

This resonated with me and aligns with the lesson above.  We all have a wealth of knowledge inside of us.  The true opportunity is to share our insights, experience and leanings in a way that people can easily understand and use. 

I challenge you to consider how you are communicating with your team.  Are you speaking from the heart?  Is your message simple and clear?  Are you relying on the passion within and letting the knowledge you have gained quietly work in the background?  I think one of the most important jobs we have as leaders is to inspire, instill hope and paint a simple clear vision of the future for our team. Unclutter your mind, simplify your work, and set yourself free.

 1Heider, John. The Tao of Leadership. Atlanta: Humanics New Age, 1985, 95.


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Alan Gehringer


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