Monday, April 15, 2019

Clarity Is Fleeting

I was on the road for much of this past week. I was attending one of my association's major workforce development programs in and around Denver, Colorado, but where I was and what I was doing is not really relevant for the purposes of this post.

What is relevant is that I was away from my office, and that while I was away I was able to get a clear picture on several of the issues that have been vexing me of late. And now that I'm back, falling quickly back into my routine, that sense of clarity has very quickly evaporated and what had been vexing is vexing again.

This is not the first time that I've noticed this dynamic. Getting myself away from my patterns of activity and patterns of thought helps me approach sticky situations with a fresh mental perspective. Invariably, I find myself quickly convinced that a certain course of action is not only obvious, it is imperative. Not only do I know what to do, I feel an urgency to do it.

I'll often send myself an email with a short, crisp instruction. Do THIS, it'll say, and when I send it I think that I'll know exactly what it means when I get back to my office and come across it in the hundreds of messages that have piled up in my inbox. But in that context the instruction is not as obvious or as urgent as it once was. Yeah, I'll typically think, that seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that I'm back and dealing with all these other things on my plate, it might be better to push that off into next week, or maybe not even do it all.

The lesson here is to always remember that clarity is fleeting. There's a reason why things become clear when you reduce the number of things distracting you and weighing on your mind. And the next time you feel that sense of imperative urgency, the only thing to do is to act on it, then and there.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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