‘Why’ is the new magic word

August 19th, 2015

Colorful spotlights on stage

CRANIUM Point: Relevance not meaningless work
Communicate how each job fits into a larger mission. Ensure the fit of each job to the team.

Miscommunication is soooo natural.  There is just no way to always accurately describe the rich complexity of everyday life with words even if you accept that there are a million words in the English language.  Just about every word in the dictionary has multiple definitions.  How do you know which one is applicable in this moment? There are regional differences in dialect.  Throw in all of the non-verbals and it seems like the deck is really stacked against effective, clear communication.

There is, however, an almost universal trick to this.  The magic word is ‘why.’  If you ask Joe to make coffee, he might get to it after he adds the finishing touches to the report on his mind since that obviously seems more important than your coffee fix.  If you give him the why, a really important person is arriving in 5 minutes and you need help finishing the spread so it’s just right, Joe will know to shift his priorities instead of barging in with a pot of coffee in the middle of your presentation.

As you teach others new material, lead others in a project, or express your opinions to coworkers or family members, be sure to include the “so what?” Explain the “why” of what you are sharing as well as the “how.”

It’s time to get clear about your purpose

July 29th, 2015


CRANIUM Point: Relevance not meaningless work
Communicate how each job fits into a larger mission. Ensure the fit of each job to the team.

 What matters most to you? What motivates you? Why do you do what you do?  The answers to these questions change over time.  Sometimes it happens quite suddenly, such as a new career or the birth of a child.  Most often our motivations and priorities change gradually.  We may realize we’re spending more time on a new part of ourself, perhaps spending more time exercising, working at a new hobby, or a new goal.

This is where a personal mission statement is absolutely critical.  If we can drill down on exactly what is most important to us in a sentence or two there are enormous benefits.  It can help us remember to spend less time on things that aren’t our priorities and more on the things that are.  It helps us to align more of our life toward who we want to be.  Just spending time on the mission statement can bring clarity about what is important and to touch our deepest drive and purpose.

So  today, when you’re writing your personal mission statement, plan to rewrite it many, many times.  Treat it as a microcosm of your life and shave the unnecessary. Then, share your statement with two or three people who are impacted by your personal mission. Here are some personal mission statements of some famous CEOs. Franklin Covey has a very helpful mission statement builder on his site.  If you find yourself it may help to focus first on your life’s purpose.

Make your project less complex

July 10th, 2015

Finding a Solution

CRANIUM Point: Relevance not meaningless work
Communicate how each job fits into a larger mission. Ensure the fit of each job to the team.

When it comes to multi-step tasks the trick isn’t adding stuff, it’s taking them away. We often end up doing repetitive or unnecessary steps because that’s the way we’ve always done it or because someone told us to do it that way and we never questioned it. Today let’s try and sharpen up the process for a complex item you have outstanding.

Find an item on your to-do list that requires several steps. Spend five minutes brain storming ways to improve that process and then try one out. Not only will you potentially save yourself time in the long-run, you can get a head start on it now. Here are some ideas that could help:

  • Document all parts of the project in one location either on paper, on a computer or in the cloud.
  • Think about the end goal and eliminate steps that don’t directly lead to it.
  • Can you delegate any of the steps?
  • Can some steps be done concurrently instead of sequentially?
  • Could training of some kind eliminate steps?

What are you really passionate about?

July 1st, 2015

golf course man

Not sure? Imagine you’re completely exhausted. What thing could you still find the energy to talk about even then? Politics? Sports? Gardening? Whatever it is you could use more of it in your life.

Being involved with something you love is great for the brain. It sets off the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain that controls how we feel about life. In other words, it makes you happy. Having a regular hobby can aid focus, enhance your creativity, boost self-esteem and much more.

Being defined only by your job, or other life circumstances will make you crazy. It can lead to anxiety, depression and many other unpleasant things. Even if you only set aside a few minutes a day for your ‘thing’ it will make a difference you can feel.