Monday, September 29, 2008

The agony of confusion and the ecstasy of clarity

By nature, I'm a passionate person. There are a few subjects that really get me going - happiness, creativity, health and wellness, the environment, puppies. (Not necessarily in that order.) And simplicity - I'm big on that. If we all worked on making our world and our lives simpler, we would all be better off. In some circles complexity and confusion are celebrated, relished, even chased because it's a mark that what those people in those circles are doing is "very important" if no one else can understand it. How ridiculous, not to mention wasteful - something we can no longer afford to be in our economic situation. 

I was shocked to hear the news today that the House didn't pass the "bailout". The Dow tumbled along with stock prices of major companies, and panic is spreading, slowly and quietly. It's unsettling. Someone said to me today that she didn't really ever understand the plan, and it's too bad that it was never explained thoroughly and clearly to the American people. I almost see her point - I do think it was explained by major media outlets like Business Week and the New York Times. You just needed to have the patience to wade through the lengthy articles. And if you don't understand something, ask around and get some help. Don't just throw up your hands and say "forget it." What really happened in the coverage is that no one made it simple to understand if you didn't have a degree in economics or an MBA. 

Simplicity and clarity are absent in many areas of our lives: in meetings at work, in relationships, in the many contracts with very small print that govern our well-being, financially and health-wise. Companies spend a lot of time, effort, and money because of confusion in roles and responsibilities, objectives, and priorities. Simplicity saves a lot of heartache. And we get to simplicity by being real, honest, and straight-forward in our intentions and actions. 

Clarity builds trust and integrity; it makes people feel that they are a part of an effort because they understand it and can clearly articulate it. Being clear and concise is a sign of maturity - it's the responsible thing to do regardless of circumstance. Confusion never pays in the long-run and only delays the inevitable. If only our government and financial markets understood that - maybe we'd find ourselves and our economy in much better shape. 

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