Clarity is the antidote to anxiety.

This simple statement has shifted me. I came across it while reading a book called, “The One Thing You Need to Know” by Marcus Buckingham.

For those that know me well or have worked for me, they would probably argue that there was no statement more transformative to me then this one.

As a leader, it would do you good to pause and reflect on these 6 words. And, in light of these current unstable times, it would be a mistake to not believe anyone is experiencing some sort of anxiety in their lives or jobs.

It would also do you good to understand that when one has anxiety, it generally leads to lack of productivity, it also can lead to misguided perception.

For some that new me well, or figured me out… they new that when they came to me and the first words out of their mouth was… “I need clarity” this was a signal to me that they were experiencing anxiety at some level and it would do us all good to immediately stop and seek to address it.

But, why is that so difficult? In recent posts, I have talked about the power of the ripple effect.

Too often, in businesses, people don’t understand that these 6 words have the power to create a ripple effect that lifts one up instead of leaving a path of destruction.

Too often, businesses don’t understand that in not providing clarity, it has the potential to sink all productivity as you leave your employees left to figure out for themselves how best to proceed. Now, granted, people only do what makes sense to them.

But, when in the culture of anxiety, what makes sense to us may not also be the most sound for us.

Think about your situation for a moment…

Do you foster a culture where people can come to you when they are feeling anxiety and need some clarity about a certain project they have been assigned to?

When you present a strategy or a project, are you presenting it in a way that seeks to provide bullet proof clarity?

Too often, messages are lost in translation. Too often, we fill our messages with too many words. In this, how focused and sharpened is that which you seek to roll out?

In this day an age, one might argue that it would be best to not let people know ahead of time that there will be job cuts. That it would be best to just spring it on people. On the other side, people might think… I don’t want to dwell in a culture daily knowing that at some point, jobs will go away and it may or may not… be me.

Either way, one would be foolish to think that this culture is not already present anyway.

If this be the case, I would recommend as a leader to develop and execute a strategy that is consistent, in touch, engaged, approachable, honest, and clear.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what people really want anyway?

Is there anxiety where you are? Can you trace it to a lack of clarity?

As an employee, you have a right to ask your supervisor a clarity question. As a supervisor, you have a responsibility to provide clarity.

In doing so, you may just unlock something extremely powerful… an antidote to anxiety.

Let’s face it, anxiety can be so crippling. Often times, when left unchecked… it can lead to what we call, paralysis from analysis. Sadly and often, this analysis feeds on things that are not perceived correctly. Imagine what a healthy dose of clarity would do for this? If this is you, seek help. …seek clarity.

If you are a leader, slow down for a second and take a temperature of your culture and get engaged. Don’t ever lose sight that which really matters… the people. Be proactive and ask yourself what type of ripple effect are you causing.

As you seek to send a clear message to the frontlines of your organization, you must lead with clarity.

Otherwise, don’t be surprised when productivity and morale sinks. Because, chances are, anxiety has taken hold and paralysis has set in.


5 responses »

  1. Mike Clouser says:

    I really appreciated your perspective here Gunnar. Often, as we become so focused on results it is easy to lose sight of the culture we have worked so hard to obtain.

    Companys that actively seek out feedback from their employees, usually find that “communication” is one of the top complaints or opportunities they get. Without specific feedback many employers atttempt to solve this problem by posting significant amounts of communication in poster form. This rarely solves the problem.

    What you are stating is that employees need clarity. They need a define the relationship talk.
    Following certain rules of mutual respect and always assuming positive intent one can hope to gain clarity even in a difficult or conflict situation.

    Providing this clarity for your team will help calm fears and anxiety. It will strengthen your culture of trust. One where everyone is on the same team, same goals etc.

    Because taking care of your culture, through clarity will in the end, take care of the results.

  2. […] In the book, Marcus also makes another profound statement that shifted everything for me at the time while I was running several companies: “Clarity is the antidote to anxiety.“ […]

  3. Great post, Gunnar. It takes a strong leader to recognize a culture of anxiety and to address it!

    Got “The One Thing You Need to Know” by Marcus Buckingham on my reading list!


    • @gunnarsimonsen says:

      Thanks Jim!! That book shifted me for that quote alone. I also mention it in my articulation post from earlier today as well. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers.

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