Stop being boring with these thoughts on brevity—and download the poster to put on your office door. The office blowhard will get the hint.
Every Monday, tune in to Fast Company Leadership for a quote to get your week started right.
This week’s quote comes from Joseph McCormack, author of Brief: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less.:
“Brevity is an essential skill that can propel people’s career in an age where the people that they’re talking to are overwhelmed.”
If you’re struggling to grab your audience’s attention—on the Internet or in the board room—say more with less.
Here’s how to avoid a longwinded rant, from Lisa Evans’s article “Less Is More: Why You’re Saying Too Much And Getting Ignored:”
“Telling a late person to be on time is a little like telling a dieter to simply stop eating so much.”
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”
“You have the power to determine how you’re going to look at a situation, and you don’t give that power to other people, particularly people who are bad or who hurt you.”
Why do some people persevere through trying circumstances while others begin flailing at the first sign of crisis? They’re resilient.
"Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper."
"It’s compassion. It’s humility. It’s saying thank you. It is always putting yourself in the other person’s position. I know it might sound weird, but empathy is one of the greatest creators of energy. It’s counterintuitive, because it’s selfless.” (!)
—Meet Angela Ahrendts, soon-to-be Apple’s Retail Chief. Her goal? Making Apple shine again.
“It’s a fact; some people won’t understand your vision. Some people will think they’re being helpful by telling you to give up. At the same time, mentors will never be more important in your career than they are right now. Mentors help us look at problems differently, and see things in us that we can’t see ourselves.”
"People can do a lot more than they actually think. It just takes stepping out there." —Josh Greenwood, is a professional slackliner. He says that the secret to success is confidence and trust in his abilities, both the result of extensive training. Anything less will result in failure.
Watch him walk the slackline. He’s mesmerizing.
1) Your mind-set makes you smarter: Carol Dweck, the Stanford psychologist, has identified two mind-sets that shape, well, our minds. There’s the fixed mind-set, in which you think your thinking abilities can’t change. Then there’s the growth mind-set, in which your thinking abilities can be developed.
"These beliefs matter," Paul observes, "because they influence how we think about our own abilities, how we perceive the world around us, and how we act when faced with a challenge or with adversity."
The question, then, is how to own our development—which is a matter of deliberate practice.
2) Your concentration makes you smarter: If we consider intelligence to be our ability to solve complex tasks, then we need to appreciate how to deal with complexity—namely, with sustained focus, since that’s the only way we can load difficult problems into our heads.
"We’d meet with Steve [Jobs] on Tuesday afternoons. He would come up with the craziest ideas. At one point, Steve wanted to do all of our error messages as haikus. He would leave, and we would all think, What is he smoking?”
An oral history of Apple design, as told by the designers who were there.
“If the profession hasn’t agreed upon it to the point where it’s not in the book yet, how can you go about treating it in an in-patient setting? It’s ridiculous. If you find the right marketing methods, you’re going to appeal to people’s fears and find patients for your program.”
“If you already have advice to give, you’re not listening. If you already know how this story turns out, you’re not listening…And if you already have your counterattack planned, you’re not listening…make sure that really listening is your only agenda item at that moment if you want to build trust, develop relationships, solve problems, create collaboration, and demonstrate your leadership.”
“At some point, this increasing bunker mentality of walling off users and their data will inevitably begin to impede real progress—the kind of exciting advancements that have made the web such a fascinating, growing and, yes, profitable space over the last decade. The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we sabotaging the real potential of the web in the name of short-term profits and a better user experience?”
“Always re-examine and reflect on where you are in your career at least every two years. Even if you’re perfectly happy with your job, the exercise forces you to check that you are actually enjoying your work and learning on the job rather than just being comfortable.”
Edmond Lau, who was an early engineer at Quora, offers advice that he received by way of a friend’s mento.