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The Art of Self-Communication – Project Managing Your Life Goals

How many times have you felt unnecessary friction, been wronged, or missed opportunities because of “bad” communication? In a recent poll, 99% of participants indicated it is important that a business communicates effectively2. I searched how to define “effective communication” and would sum up the 1.5 million results as both “… able to clearly convey a message…” and to “… listen in a way that gains the full meaning of what’s being said…”1,7. So, why don’t businesses just do that?

It turns out communication is extremely complicated. Here are four required elements for “effective” communication to be achieved9.

  1. The speaker must know the message they want to share and identify their intended audience.
  2. The speaker must formulate a sentence that communicates the message accurately and thoroughly to the intended audience.
  3. The audience (listener) must receive the sentence as accurately and thoroughly as the speaker intended.
  4. The audience (listener) must interpret the message with the same meaning the speaker wanted to share.

If change is a foundational element of our transformative thought journey, communicating our plan is how we bring it to life.

Self-Communication in Personal Change

In conventional change (at work), we look to leaders for awareness and communication of the plan; well, as WayMakers, we’re all in charge of our plan. That means we need self-awareness and self-communication to set a path through change, and then navigate ourselves through. So, we must comprehend the plan and communicate it effectively with ourselves to stay on track. This isn’t easier than communicating with other people because we take mental shortcuts; we tell ourselves this is our idea, we know what’s going on, and exchange thorough contemplation for “I know what I’m doing.”

Leadership as a Social Construct

Contrary to popular belief, “leadership” has nothing to do with titles or the professional hierarchy and everything to do with influence and relationships8. Truth be told, you can lead anyone up, down, or sideways in an organization, if your relationship with them affords you a supportive influence. For this reason, recent research has suggested that formal leadership (through titles and heirarchies) exists only because people want to be relieved of decision-making in favor of being told what to do3. Leadership wouldn’t be necessary if we took charge of ourselves and determined our own paths toward success. But, isn’t that what we’ve done here, as WayMakers? Through relentless pursuit of who and what we want to become, when and why we want to become it?

Think about the consequences of leadership – why we want it. We attribute things like personal transformation, development, fulfillment, productivity, meaning, etc., to “good” leadership. If someone’s leadership style doesn’t fit our needs, we discard what we don’t want, or even worse, label them a “bad leader” and discard them entirely. Truthfully, no one is a bad leader, they just aren’t the right relationship for you, your context, or your goals.

Blowing Off Non-Essentials

Despite how heavily we desire personal improvement, we must be ruthless in identifying and denying non-essential tasks, maintaining alignment of our actions with our core values, and focusing on depth for proficiency instead of breadth, to “do it all”. For this reason, I disagree with the saying “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”. Would you rather be able to do a little bit of a lot or a lot of a little? More concretely, is your desire to be mediocre at everything you do, or to be exceptional at what you choose? If your goal is to be exceptionally well-rounded, then sure, please try a little bit of everything. But typically, when you ask someone what their dream is, it’s a specific skill or task, not to do everything. I’m not criticizing your goals, only encouraging you to evaluate where on this spectrum you land. If you’re going to lead yourself, knowing how to prioritize in a manner that pursues the right objective is critical.

Helpful tip: After iterations of achieving your goal and initiating new change plans, you’ll find that over time you’ll become well-rounded but exceptional in each area you’ve pursued intentionally.

The Big Picture

Stick with me as I roll this up into a metaphor to close us out. If our life is a construction plan (it is), with our current self as the foundation, and our ideal self as the completed building, our change plan is the infrastructure, our milestones are the construction phases, and we as WayMakers are the project managers. That means we can view challenges as construction delays that slow progress, but don’t halt it; our community as the crew to build more effectively and more quickly; our resources as materials and tools for safe and accurate construction, and most importantly – our self-reflection as quality control. Taking command of your own life has placed you at the helm; you are responsible for leading this construction project, navigating the distractions, and focusing on production.

You are responsible for your success or failure. Use your community for support, but the support they provide can only be as good your communication of the plan. They need to know what you need, which means you need to know what you need, which means spending time in reflection. You have to at least have an idea of how to answer:

More on these next time.

Do you want to learn more? Check out:

The Book: Be Relentless: If the obstacle is the way, then we must be WayMakers.

The Podcast: “Be Relentless Podcast”!

The Fuel: Sisu Stamina, Performance Evolved

  1. Business Jargons. (2016, July 9). What is Effective Communication? Definition and Meaning – Business Jargons. Business Jargons. https://businessjargons.com/effective-communication.html
  2. Communication Statistics 2023. (2023). https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/project.co/PDFs/Project.co-Communications-Stats-2023.pdf
  3. Gemmill, G. (1986). The Mythology of the Leader Role in Small Groups. Small Group Behavior, 17(1), 41–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/104649648601700104 
  4. Quinata, J. (2023a, September 2). Warriors and WayMakers – to Win the Fight, First, We Must Fight. Universal Learning Approach. https://ulauniverse.com/warriors-and-waymakers-to-win-the-fight-first-we-must-fight/
  5. Quinata, J. (2023b, September 12). Navigating the Transformation Terrain – Charting Your Path to Growth. Universal Learning Approach. https://ulauniverse.com/navigating-the-transformation-terrain-charting-your-path-to-growth/
  6. Quinata, J. (2023c, September 26). From Surviving to Thriving – How Mental Toughness Fuels Vision and Strategy. Universal Learning Approach. https://ulauniverse.com/from-surviving-to-thriving-how-mental-toughness-fuels-vision-and-strategy/
  7. Robinson, L., Segal, J., & Smith, M. (2023, February 27). Effective Communication. Help Guide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/effective-communication.htm
  8. Senge, P. M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Doubleday.
  9. Toolshero. (2022, March 2). Berlo’s SMCR Model of Communication. Toolshero. https://www.toolshero.com/communication-methods/berlos-smcr-model-of-communication/

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