If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver.

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. – Winston Churchill

A Pile Driver is the loud machine that takes the long pipes at the lower right of the screen, and pounds them into the ground, as seen in the lower middle. Big impacts, loud noises, impossible to miss, or to misunderstand.

What does that mean?
This is Sir Winston at his finest. It is part of a longer quote, which goes into detail as to how to properly use a pile driver to make your point. Sir Winston may not have been a poet, but he certainly did have a way with words. We will stick with the heart of the quote for the purposes of this post.

Sometimes subtle or clever has a place, but then, so does the pile driver.  When the point is sufficiently important, you cannot afford to allow the vagueness of a subtle or clever phrase obscure your true intent. When your point is that important, be direct and be forceful, make sure you are clear and clearly understood.

Why is clarity important?
By being subtle and clever, you take the chance that the point will be missed or not taken as sufficiently urgent. As the leader of Great Britain during World War II, Sir Winston had to get many important points out to the public as well as to members of the government and the military. He also had to be able to receive important points from others with absolute clarity.

At that time, lives were on the line, and there was no margin for error or misunderstanding. While the vast majority of us are not presently in such dire straits, we still face situations where a misunderstanding can cause anything from hilarity to havoc. My thought is that it’s best to avoid such situations by being perfectly clear and appropriately forceful. Up to and including the use of a pile driver.

Where can I apply this in my life?
As was stated before, there are times for subtlety and cleverness. When you are asked if the dress makes her look fat, or if the shirt goes with the pants or if the socks clash with anything else, these might be appropriate times for subtlety. If you’re about to be in a car wreck, drop the subtlety and the cleverness and state something clearly and forcefully, right?

In my life, I try to be kind to people. Sometimes, that backfires and I state something fairly bluntly that probably would have been better handled with subtlety. Saying “With the ruffles right there, it makes you look like a camel in a tent” isn’t subtle. It might be accurate, but it might have been better to say “What about trying on the other new dress and see how that looks.” Guess which one I actually said.

Unfortunately, incidents like the one above have made me a bit shy about saying anything (can you blame me?). This can lead to pitiful attempts at subtlety by me, resulting in larger problems down the road.

Grab some paper and make a list of a few critical areas in your life. I’ll pick three at random and use the following: personal safety, driving skills and hygiene. If someone is about to do something to endanger my personal safety, I would give myself permission to use a pile driver to let them know that they are not to do that (what ever ‘that’ might be).

I would also give myself permission to use a pile driver if they are driving in a manner inconsistent with traffic and conditions. Same for people with poor hygiene (which includes too much as well as too little). If they have gotten this far in life without figuring things out, then far too many people have been far too subtle for far too long, right?

The point is that in these three aspects of life (an arbitrary number), I have given myself permission to use the pile driver. What are a few of the things where you have such strong feelings that you don’t want to risk being misunderstood? You should have a few written down at this point. As always, you can always do this exercise over again with other aspects later, if you so choose.

The reason we are giving this list a conscious examination is to get clarity on what really is important to you. What is so important that you are willing to insult or anger someone with your words? In most cases, you should be able to get ahead of the curve if you are paying attention, that is to notice it so early that you can afford to be subtle, with the pile driver held in reserve.

By making the decision, right here, right now, that you will act, you will therefore be ready to act. By determining at what point you go from subtle to pile driver is also important. This kind of clarity in your mind allows you to pick the proper moment to move from kind and subtle to pile driver and crystal clear.

Not every situation requires a pile driver, however it helps to know what you need to do to be clearly understood in each situation. Sometimes subtle works, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes only a pile driver will do. If you examine your life and what is important to you, you will have clarity as to when you will be subtle and when you will use the pile driver. Have I driven my point home yet? 8)

From: Twitter, @motivatquotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu111314.html
Photo by semarr

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] does that mean? This is a pile-driver way of pointing out the obvious. Fame has no endurance, just think of sports or Hollywood stars […]

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    […] charged words to get a point across. He seems to subscribe to Sir Winston Churchill’s dictum on subtlety. It certainly gets your attention and gets you thinking a bit, doesn’t […]

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