Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brass Tacks

An acquaintance of mine used to cut off rambling descriptions and preambles by saying, "brass tacks, Randy," which meant, loosely paraphrased: My mind is starting to wander, so if you want me to know something specific, make your point soon! I used to think this was rather rude, being something of a storyteller, but I do see a certain value to cutting through all of the fluff, excuses, explanations, and doublespeak. The bottom line can can still be specific and detailed, and it requires a bit of discernment to know which things are truly important and which are just being included for effect. In other words, if I want to cut to the heart of my message, I have to put some thought into it.

This has come into play recently for me in visioning how I want to devote my time and effort. My idealized life is multifaceted, and I want to express what I'm creating succinctly to people, especially when I am conscious of the value of partnerships. If I ramble on about all the possibilities, I am not really making a commitment to creating anything. The fluffy, blurry form of my vision doesn't seem very likely to enroll others. I've also heard this called an elevator pitch: getting a point across convincingly in the span of an elevator ride.

Getting all of the fluff out of the way also lets me assess how true something is. When I succinctly express the heart of what I'm creating, I can look at how I have been spending my time and energy and know immediately whether the two are in harmony. I have known organizations and individuals that have catchy one-liner purpose or mission statements, and yet the results don't match up. Enough padding, excuses, and justification can hide the fact that some choices and actions don't really relate to the mission at all. Clearing aside fluff and filigree helps me keep on track with my own purpose.

The filigree can be attractive. The explanations can be helpful, and there may be a variety of possibilities for how a vision can play out. My intention, though, is to start from my essential purpose and build the details on that foundation. Even that personal purpose gets refined the more I express it, which can mean ever greater clarity about what really fits and what doesn't. So here are the brass tacks: I create music that contributes to a more harmonious world and I inspire others to create the lives they truly want.

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