The Clarity Break: Working On Your Business, Not Just In Your Business
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The Art of Clarity
Having a clear vision. It’s the holy grail for entrepreneurs--especially those of us who are easily distracted. Vision is the cornerstone of a successful, profitable company: it’s what unites your team, drives your decisions, and keeps you motivated when obstacles arise.
If you use the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), your Implementer will help you construct that vision over two full-day sessions. But the work doesn’t end there. A vision is a living thing, and it needs continual care and attention to evolve, stay relevant, and be your company’s guiding light.
Cultivating your vision is a key part of the CEO or owner’s role. You’re familiar with the concepts of “working ON the business” vs. “working IN the business.” Keeping your vision alive is working on the business--and although it’s extremely valuable, entrepreneurs often put it off or ignore it.
The reason? The perception of not enough time. It’s easy to get swept up in working IN the business: managing team members, handling customer service, even doing client work or administration in some cases. When an entrepreneur spends too much time in the business, the company inevitably hits a ceiling for growth.
The solution is a simple EOS tool: the Clarity Break (download all the official EOS tools here). I’ve heard Gino Wickman, Traction author himself, say that the Clarity Break might be the most important tool in the entire Entrepreneurial Operating System.
Clarity Break Dos and Don'ts:
What you need for a Clarity Break:
–1-2 hours minimum, booked into your calendar
–Your company’s Vision/Traction Organizer (or other vision/mission document if you’re not using EOS yet)
–Paper and a pen
–Ideally, an unconventional environment (i.e. not your office or usual workspace)
What you don’t need for a Clarity Break:
–A to-do list of any kind (although doing a “brain dump” to get that mental to-do list out of your head can be valuable before your Clarity Break--keep reading to see what Glenn Grant has to say about it)
The purpose is to simply sit and think about your business. Give your mind time to be creative. Try not to judge any thoughts or ideas that arise too quickly.
You might be hit with a flash of insight or brilliant inspiration--or you might feel a little bored. The point is to build the habit. If you keep giving yourself the time and space to show up as the CEO, clarity will inevitably follow.
Shared Experiences Around Clarity Breaks
So what do Clarity Breaks look like, and what can you learn from them?
I take a Clarity Break anytime I get stuck. No computer--it’s too distracting. Just a clipboard, some printer paper, and a pen. Before I get started, I write down all the tasks and to-dos that are in my head. If I don’t get them out and onto paper, I end up using too much brainpower just to hold them all in my conscious mind.
Once I’ve done that, the Clarity Break can finally begin. I might be thinking about something I’m stuck on or where I want to take the business next. Anytime I feel stuck, I know it’s time to do something different. Even grabbing a coffee or going for a quick walk can spark creativity--it’s the “you have your best ideas in the shower” effect.
What you have to remember is that Clarity Breaks aren’t goofing off. They’re actual work, and taking time out can actually improve your productivity. I usually leave a Clarity Break excited and invigorated about what comes next.
And here’s a share from Ryan Villanueva, one of our firm’s EOS Implementers and founder of Best Delegate:
My organization was going to implode. People were unhappy, sending each other angry emails, a few threatening to quit. I was stressed out and wondered why this was happening -- who was to blame for this mess?
I took a Clarity Break and realized the answer was... me. I was the leader of the company, and I needed to take 'extreme ownership' of the situation, regardless of whether or not it was within my control.
I took the blame -- and I also took ownership. I worked with my leadership team to Identify, Discuss, and Solve (IDS) the issues we were facing.
It took some time, but we came out the other side intact, and stronger and healthier than before. And I came out of it a stronger and better leader. That's the power of clarity.
Many of us have had the luxury of a little more time to work on the business during COVID-19. As the economy reopens, you’ll need to intentionally keep making that time for yourself and for your company. Take this opportunity to rededicate yourself to Clarity Breaks to make sure your vision stays alive.