The Power of Specific, and How You Can Become More So

Nov 24, 2016

Being specific, clear and precise helps you hit more targets and score more points

One of the first skills I learned in advertising was to be specific. It helped me stay on track when pitching, presenting or feeding back in meetings, and my boss and our clients thanked me for it. They had no time for wishy-washy thinking and information that strayed from the point and didn’t tell them what they wanted to know.

So being specific is a great skill to have. We notice, remember and appreciate people who are specific because they leave a clear picture in our minds. They provide rest for our otherwise time-strapped and information overloaded lives.

People who are specific are a pleasure to work with:

Although ‘specific’ is the first of the letters in the acronym for setting SMART goals, it has a far wider application. Just as it helps you set goals that are clear, detailed and focused it also helps you become a clear, detailed and focused communicator, team-player or leader. Imagine how much more effective you and those you work with can be when what you say and do are guided by aims and objectives that are specific.

People who are specific save time and resources:

The ability to be specific about what you want and how you are going to get it will save you from running off course. It will save you time. Bill Copeland said, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never scoring.” If your goals, plans, aim, intentions, communication or whatever are not specific then, likewise, you can find yourself waffling, drifting and wasting time and resources.

What specific does it makes it easier to focus your efforts and resources in the right direction.

How to become specific

Specific is really another word for simple. Keep it simple and not only will you be able to understand what it is you are on about, but other people will too. The marathon runner Toshihiko Seko had a very simple training goal. He told it in these 12 words: “I run ten kilometres in the morning and twenty in the evening.” People thought his goal was too simple but he used it to outrun the world’s most gifted, fastest and greatest runners during the 1980s.

You become specific by focusing on the details and getting rid of everything else. You decide on the one, two or three points you want to make. You decide on the colour, size and shape of the new gadget you want to buy. A business owner might set a goal to help one million small business owners become profitable by 2020. That’s a clear and specific description of his or her intention.

To be specific you must know what you want. I remember reading how a man who grew a million-dollar mail order business decided long beforehand what type of business he wanted to build. He chose mail order because he did not want to commute, he did not want to have to deal with customers face to face and he wanted to work from home so he could be around for his family. These ideals guided his choice as to what he would and would not do so it was much easier to know when to say no, even if the offer was tempting.

I find Zig Ziglar’s seven steps to creating goals really useful in thinking about what specific looks like.

  1. Identify what you want.
  2. Spell out why you want it.
  3. List the obstacles that may stand in your way.
  4. Identify who you need to help you reach the goal.
  5. Identify what you need to know to reach the goal.
  6. Develop a plan for how you will achieve it.
  7. Set a date for what you will achieve the goal.

As Zig Ziglar says, this will move you from wish-washy to rock solid.

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