John Schuerholz was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame a few weeks ago. (For those who don’t care about baseball, stick with me…this really isn’t about baseball.) Schuerholz, as general manager (GM) of both the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves, took both teams to World Series titles. GMs are the puzzle-masters of baseball, hiring the talent both on and off the field while negotiating with the owner to build a successful franchise.
Schuerholz began his career as a high school grammar, composition, and geography teacher. It was there – according to writer Joe Posnanski – that Schuerholz learned the importance of clarity. “This was the great gift of John Schuerholz, the commanding instinct that helped make him one of the most successful general managers in baseball history. He sought clarity. He demanded clarity.” Posnanski notes that great teachers seek clarity. “There is the well-reasoned answer and the chaotic flood of words meant to obscure the fact that the student didn’t do the work.”
Last week I wrote about the wandering mind while today I’m focused on clarity. Both, I believe, are critical to success. (As F. Scott Fitzgerald noted, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”) The wandering mind helps foster creativity. At the National Trust, we use one-page plans as we seek to provide clarity in defining organizational, departmental, and personal success.
Clarity is so important to understanding. Friedrich Nietzsche once said,
“Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity. For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water.”
In looking ahead to 2017, let’s strive for clarity. Have a good week.
More to come…