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How Urgent Is It?

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Our to-do lists seem to grow longer every single day. You have to finish this and you have to finish that. Can you embrace this pace of life?

Moving with urgency means being action-oriented, fast-paced, and swift. A sense of urgency can positively impact results for individuals and teams. However, the pace is relative based on your own experience and efforts. As a leader, I know an urgent pace for some is more accelerated than for others. It makes creating a sense of urgency a challenge. This week I share some of my thoughts on urgency and urge you to think about how they may affect your results.

1. Reflection. When I reach a milestone, I usually take time to reflect on lessons learned. One of the questions, I ask myself is “how could it have been achieved faster?” I try to determine where the pace was dictated by resources, people, knowledge, or outside influences. This understanding can help future activities, and strengthen the lessons learned.

2. Observation. Since pace is relative, it is important to observe the change of pace. Ideally, I would like to see all parts of an activity or project accelerate, but if some area is lacking, it needs closer examination.

3. Results. Urgency should bring results quicker. But you risk increasing errors or skipping important steps. I have learned that increasing urgency with a team also requires increasing the diligence in monitoring and evaluation of results. Urgency can drive extraordinary results, but only if care is given excellence.

4. Importance. Orrin Woodward said, “When the urgent crowds out the important, people urgently accomplish nothing of value.” Not everything should be urgent. Urgency loses its power if everything needs to be done first. Make only the most important thing urgent.


© Flickr user Thomas Leuthard.

Urgency can help us become better, but we can also become better at being urgent. It may not feel like it, but it’s actually helpful at times to have urgent matters. Jack Klemeyer talked about this issue in a post about something very important – what’s stopping you from achieving your goals?


Why should we do anything? Why indeed! That missing why is called purpose. Without a strong purpose, the urgent things take over. The ringing telephone takes over. “You’ve Got Mail” takes over. The knock at the door takes over. Inertia takes over. I remember in physics I learned that it takes additional energy to break free of inertia. A powerful purpose adds that energy. Energy that organizes your actions, and brings the important things to the fore. To break free of the inertia of your current routine, you need an inspiring purpose.

If this still isn’t lighting a fire under you, maybe some advice from The Business Journals can help. Their article by Peter DeMarco touches on really important aspects of this discussion. Sometimes, team members or fellow co-workers don’t rise to the challenge of a deadline. His top tip is really inspiring.

Leaders communicate by their example. As a leader, ask yourself: Do you react to all problems with the same level of intensity or do you differentiate according to the situation? The intensity of your reactions ought to be in direct proportion to the importance of what is at stake.

Even if you’re not in a leadership role, you can certainly use this advice for yourself. You have to take that same level of intensity and put that into all of your work. Don’t burn yourself out by putting all of your effort into a single area. Bring that focus and drive to everything you do!

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Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people's lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.
Mark S. Brown


Executive and Business Coach at New Roads Leadership. A founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. We coach for your personal success!
Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown

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