“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
– Herbert Simon, Economist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1978
In the same way that clarity is water’s natural state, clarity is also our natural state.
As I was entering a one week silent retreat in France, Taizé last year, one of the brothers said that one thing that will happen when I enter silence is that “the mud will settle.”
I truly experienced this after a few days of not saying a word, but simply walking around in nature, resting, meditating & thinking… oftentimes about my thinking…
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE INTRODUCTION
In these first pages, Jamie sets the stage by posing questions such as: What is clarity & why is it essential?
So, lets start with those.
WHAT IS CLARITY?
So, clarity is the mental state of being completely “in the zone”. It’s the mental state where we’re not obsessing about the past, future & our present experience… Its a mental stage where we are ready to take at hand the challenges that are presented to us.
In short, it seems as Clarity is the very basic state of peak performance and experience.
WHY CLARITY MATTERS
Clarity is essential, because it’s the precondition to cultivating everything else that we struggle to have, such as:
* Intuition – the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.
* Emotional Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; a.k.a. “toughness.”
* Creativity – the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.
* Motivation – desire or willingness to do something, enthusiasm & zeal.
* Self – Confidence – the feeling or belief that we can have faith in our selves, that we will do what we say we will do, for example. (self-efficacy in psychology)
Mr. Smart (awesome name btw) argues that these are innate potentialities we all have, which comes forth naturally in an uncluttered mind.
“Clarity is the source of authentic leadership and peak performance.”
– Jamie Smart
He also argues that people with a clear mind tend to have a deeper sense of purpose, direction and entrepreneurial spirit.
Wait a moment… This sounds kind of “salesy”… I guess it sounds too good to be true…
We shall see…
Wait a minute, he continues to explain how mental clarity is also the source of happiness, freedom, security, love and peace of mind…
It’s a bold claim…
So, to the next question:
HOW DO WE “DO” CLARITY?
The thing with clarity is that it’s not something we do, its something we understand that we already have, everyone of us.
It’s all about deepening our understanding of how our thoughts, perceptions and feelings work…
So, all we need to do, to re-discover this core capacity as a human being is to make a real effort in understanding how innate thinking works.
And as a by-product of this deep understanding, we will experience (more bold claims) all from:
* An effortlessly clear mind.
* More time for what’s important.
* Improved decision making.
* Better performance where it counts.
* More of the results that matter to us.
Jamie likens this understanding of clarity with “catching a cold”. It’s something we don’t need to “try to be” or do, which allows us to change in a more organic way.
WHY WE NEED CLARITY NOW MORE THAN EVER
This passage from Clarity says it very clearly:
“Our mental clarity us under attack! Hyperlinks, smartphones and social media voraciously consume our precious attention…. Clogged with everything from breaking news and text alerts, to fears, anxieties and limiting beliefs, the overcrowded, speedy mind is the single biggest cause of stress, lack of confidence and bad decisions. Mental congestion results in time poverty, strained relationships, fumbled (not well thought through) goals, poor performance and unreleased potential.”
Now, as we enter new times of disruption and innovation… In this age where everything is connected & everyone are connected, we need clarity more than ever…
We need to be able to make wise decisions with clear minds, in order to create a better tomorrow, in our families, communities and in this world.
THE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING
Jamie argues in Clarity that, all of our lives, we’ve been conditioned, through a deep cultural misunderstanding, into thinking that we are created and determined from the outside-in. He calls it “The outside-in misunderstanding. We’ll get more into that later.
At the end of each chapter, there is a question that I will reflect on. Today’s question is:
As you look back now, what are some of the more memorable occasions when you’ve found yourself experiencing an unexpected increase in clarity?
List of Unexpected Occasions of Increased Clarity
* Walking in the forrest, being completely present
* Performing for a crowd, singing & acting
* Really engaging in a conversation actively with interest & deep listening
* Sometimes when I write about something that engages me
* Getting deep into the world of a great book
* Presenting ideas I’m passionate about to a group with a deep belief that they need to hear it
* Doing things I’m afraid of, such as calling or initiating contact with someone that is 10X smarter & more experienced than me
* Doing Yin-Yoga
* Being hit in the head and remaining calm
* Sharing ideas & thoughts that has helped me move forward in a constructive way
My immediate reflection on this, is that clarity seems to be very close to the flow state…
Hopefully we’ll see how it all comes together, further down the path of understanding.
What are some unexpected occasions of increased clarity for you? Would love to hear if we have any similar experiences, or completely different.
– Daniel Galovan