“I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead.”
This quotation has been variously attributed to Mark Twain, Pascal, Winston Churchill and Pliny the Younger among others. No matter who first coined it, the thought is timeless and resonates today. It points to the danger of communicating a message before we have taken the time to know it so well that we are able to distill it into its most basic essence.
If you’ve ever listened to someone try to explain something they really don’t understand and haven’t internalized, this quotation makes perfect sense. I experienced this in myself recently when a new hire asked me a great question that I hadn’t previously given much thought to. About 300 words into my rambling answer I stopped babbling and said I’d get back to him. Contrast that scenario with someone who has taken time to examine the topic. Their response is short, to the point, and almost beautiful.
I watched a short video on YouTube this morning that helped me realize why I enjoy Twitter. Twitter broadcasts – called microblogs – are short messages to the world. In 140 characters or less we seek to send something out there that will have meaning.
Leaders take the time to unravel and simplify complex situations. Microblogging could be seen as a tool to help us hone our craft.