Welcome to Weekly Wisdom!  We will explore ways to make your life simpler and better (because simplest is often best!)

“Expunge the Bunk”

This phrase comes to us from the Army Chief of Staff during World War II, General of the Army George C. Marshall.  General Marshall was responsible for as many as 8 million soldiers, aviators, and support personnel at one time and was known as “The Architect of Victory” during World War II.  Marshall literally took command of the U.S. Army on September 1, 1939—the first day of World War II.  He commanded the Army with distinction for the next 6 years, building it from a force smaller than Bulgaria’s to the foremost military machine in the world by V-J Day on September 2, 1945.  He did not do this by wasting time.

General Marshall was famous for keeping things simple.  He insisted that reports be given to him in person so he could quiz the people making the reports. He also insisted that reports be one page in length or less. His legendary daily briefings took precisely one hour and since they covered military activity on 6 continents, there was zero time for extraneous commentary.  Marshall focused on one thing:  the facts on the ground as of that moment.

Marshall’s phrase “Expunge the bunk” was his directive to subordinates to stick to the facts and only the facts.  He did not need elaborate narratives because he did not have the time to wade through excess verbiage.  As a result of this policy, he was able to make quick decisions based on the best evidence available, not on emotional considerations. Marshall was also legendary for his ability to listen to what others were saying and ask questions that cut to the heart of the matter immediately.  If anyone around him had a good idea, he was willing to listen and make a decision on the spot.  Marshall approved development of the most versatile vehicle of World War II, the Jeep, in a meeting that lasted less than 5 minutes because the officer presenting the proposal had his facts straight.  How much better would our lives be if those around us made informed decisions in a matter of minutes based on the evidence we provide them?

Are you bogged down in excess verbal or written baggage?  Do you tell others how to make a watch if they ask you what time it is?  Do others ask you to “cut to the chase”?  If so, you are probably drowning them in too much detail when all they need is a simple declaration of the facts.  “Expunge the bunk” by boiling your message down to important facts and you will be pleasantly surprised by (a) how much time you save and (b) how quickly those you are dealing with will make decisions based on facts you have provided.  They will appreciate your brevity and you will appreciate their willingness to decide quickly.

Expunge the bunk today—and enjoy the benefits tomorrow!