During an interview Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, was asked what trait he looked for in new hires. Contemplating the question, he responded,
“Do they create clarity? Do they create energy”
Energy and clarity, two characteristics that are invaluable not only within the workplace but in all areas of life.
Not only is the presence of energy and clarity inestimably valuable, but the presence of the reciprocal attribute is correspondingly inestimably detrimental. Apathy is contagious derailing even the best laid plans and strategies. Likewise confusion takes abundant energy and converts it to worthless drivel. To have only one is worthless at best and harmful at worst. Energy with confusion is mania. Clarity without energy is static. Start-ups often have an abundance of energy, a plethora of enthusiasm but lack the clarity needed to win in the long run. Likewise, ideas in academia often stagnate as there is great clarity to a project but little urgency within institutions known for tenure and long-winded discussions.
Both energy and clarity are essential. Proverbs emphasizes this in contrasting stereotypes of the youth and the elder in chapter 20 verse 29. “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair (ESV).” During ones youth, energy is abundant. The struggle during youth is containing this abundant energy. The common encouragement for the young is to sit back, to think, to contemplate. Get a group of young people together and there will be plenty of energy with little trajectory. Conversely, the gray hair to which the Proverb refers, speaks to the experience and wisdom which comes from many years spent walking the earth. The common struggle for the elderly is to get going, to muster up the energy to get moving, to get things done. Energy and clarity are required at all ages, yet there is a proclivity to different ends of the spectrum at different ages.
The first question must always be aimed inward. Am I someone who generates energy? Am I someone who generates clarity? Most importantly, are there areas where I am weighing the energy down through complaining and indifference? Are there areas where I am creating confusion through using too many words or perhaps because the plan remains unorganized in my own head?
The second question is then aimed outward. Who around me embodies both of these things- bringing both clarity and energy to every situation. Conversely who around me embodies apathy and confusion? In what ways can we bolster the former and sequester the latter? The longstanding success of every endeavor depends on the combination of these two. With energy short term gains may be realized as energy is contagious. But clarity is required to build a long term trajectory, an organization that is capable of withstanding a changing environment.
Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Without vision the people perish (KJV)” . Without clarity everything is lost. Proverbs 6: 10-11 emphasizes the importance of energy. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man (NIV).” Both energy and clarity are required in tandem.
Do I bring energy?
Do I bring clarity?