Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com, is a leader I’ve come to admire. He contributed to the book, The Inner Edge, and in fact, endorsed it. (To read his review, click here.)
In my workshops, I often use Patrick as an example for the First Practice of Personal Leadership: Get Clarity.
I like to distinguish between clarity and vision. Vision is the desired, ultimate end result; clarity is the ability to keep that vision alive day after day. Both are essential to succeed in any endeavor.
Patrick once told me he has had cancer three times, and each time he recovered, he has ridden his bike across the United States, from California to New York.
Think about the vision Patrick must have had for these cross-country trips. Arriving on his bike in New York. Finishing the ride. Maybe symbolizing beating cancer. Or celebrating life.
Now compare that to the clarity Patrick needed to get through the ride. Imagine what must have gone through his mind when the road got long. Or cold. Or hot. In the middle of the prairie and through every little town, every flat tire, every hungry mile. Why am I doing this again? Oh yes. Celebrating life. That constant reconnection to the vision is what we call clarity. It’s a different process than getting a vision. It’s pulling yourself from wherever you are, no matter how distant or disconnected it may seem, back to that vision once again. It’s that process of reconnecting, reconnecting, reconnecting that got Patrick through those rides.
And although he didn’t say it, I imagine the same was true for the cancer.
Clarity takes time to cultivate; sometimes we come by it easily and sometimes it takes a little more effort. Patrick once said to me, “Bicycling, I used to think about the Atlantic Ocean. I thought, as long as I’m pointed east and I’m still pedaling, I have to be getting closer.” When you have clarity about what you want, even if you don’t know exactly how to get there, you will be getting closer to your ultimate vision in every step.
I like to learn from leaders like Patrick. If you do, too, you may be interested in a series of leadership profiles I offer called Getting an Edge: 21 Ways World Class Leaders Share Their Secrets for Leading and Living Well. Each of 21 profiles just like this one comes in a separate email – once a day for 21 days. For more information email Info@TheInnerEdge.com.