How to have very clear ideas: an introduction.

Over the last ten years, I developed a process that can turn a not-very-clear idea into a very clear idea in about two hours. I’ve used it more times than I can count, helping hundreds of entrepreneurs and artists and whoever get clear on what they’re doing. It’s different every time, but this is roughly how it goes.

This is how it begins.

Someone says, ‘There’s something I’m not very clear about that I’d like to be very clear about.

And you say, “OK. What are we talking about?”

And they say, “I want to be clear about my career. Or my new project. Or my life. Or the book I’m writing.”

And you spend a little time working out what it really is that they want to get clear about.

And then you help them get clear.

To start with, you ask for their full, undistracted attention and focus.

Not on the present situation. Not on the problem. Not on the past.

But on the idea.

The thing they have in their mind that they want to do or need to do or wish they could do, but that isn’t yet clear enough.

You leave the everyday world behind.

You move into the space of ideas. Where everything is possible.

It may be necessary to say to them, “This is your dream. Everything is possible here. You don’t have to dream about things being difficult. You don’t have to dream about consequences. And you don’t have to dream about how you’ll get there. We can look at all of those things later. But now, we start with the dream.”

Because the starting point has to be finding out what the thing is.

This thing they’re not very clear about, what is it?

Unless you know what it is, how are you meant to talk about how to get there?

So the first task is the dream.

What do you need?

What do you want?

What do you demand?

What do you love?

What do you wish for?

What do you dream of?

What do you live for?

You can ask them these seven questions.

Not about now.

Not about what they need, want, demand, love, wish for, dream of now.

Not who they are now.

But there, in the dream.

And they can talk and talk and talk.

It’s like warming up.

They get to hear about the dream.

They get to feel the words coming out of their mouth.

They get to think it through while someone witnesses the process.

And maybe you write it all down.

Or just the good bits.

And then you read back the best bits to them.

And they tell you what they remembered from the bits you read out.

And pretty soon you have a handful of words, maybe a few broken sentences.

The beginnings of a clearer idea.

Take the pieces. Put them together.

Between you, see if you can turn it into one long, clumsy, barely grammatical sentence.

It doesn’t have to be beautiful.

It’s not for putting on a billboard or a promotional mug. Or for talking about in public.

It just has to be vaguely accurate.

A rough approximation of what you’re talking about.

Then take this one long, clumsy, barely grammatical sentence and start again.

Ask them to leave the everyday world behind.

Move into the space of ideas. Where everything is possible.

Ask for their full, undistracted attention and focus.

And read out the sentence and say:

Is this what you need?

Is this what you want?

Is this what you demand?

Is this what you love?

Is this what you wish for?

Is this what you dream of?

Is this what you live for?

If they say yes to every question, then you’re done.

The thing is clear.

If they say no to some of the questions, take them one at a time.

Still there. In the space of ideas. Where everything is possible.

Still talking about the thing you agreed you’d talk about.

If the answer’s no, find out what yes is.

Is this what you need?


OK. What do you need?

And when they’ve answered, see if you need to tweak that one long, clumsy, barely grammatical sentence.

When it’s tweaked, ask them again — Is this what you need?

And when they can say yes, then you can move on.

Repeat until the answer to every question is yes. Then you’re done.

It normally takes me about two hours to get someone from “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.” to “I have no further questions.”

If you’d like to book a Very Clear Ideas session, drop me a line.

If you’d like to try the process yourself, follow these instructions and see how you get on.