Through the years I have often been called responsible. It is a label I take pride in. If I tell you I am going to do something, I will. I won’t let you down. I will complete the assignment given and I will do it on time. And I will usually do a good job (as long as you are not asking me to do auto or home repairs).
These days I am trying to add another label to my description - high achiever. One of the key differences between being responsible and being a high achiever is a sense of urgency. The responsible person feels urgency as a deadline looms, but the high achiever feels it on a more consistent basis. The responsible person relaxes the week after a major project while the high achiever celebrates for no more than 24 hours before passionately pressing toward the next goal.
There is no question more gets done when there is a feeling of urgency. Most of us remember cramming for exams or writing that term paper the night before it was due. The responsible one got the work done and may have even made a decent grade. But the high achievers (the one’s we made fun of) felt the sense of urgency weeks earlier and earned the grades to show for it. Good sports teams are efficient in the last 2 minutes of a half when they feel the urgency to finish well. But the ̶A̶̶l̶̶a̶̶b̶̶a̶̶m̶̶a̶̶ ̶̶C̶̶r̶̶i̶̶m̶̶s̶̶o̶̶n̶̶ ̶̶T̶̶i̶̶d̶e best teams carry that efficiency throughout the entire game.
What about you? Are you satisfied with your achievement level? Here are a few tips to help you up urgency and your game.
Set mini-deadlines - When you receive a due date from your boss or wife (hypothetically) or make one yourself, break it down into bite sized pieces. This is one of those obvious suggestions that few people seem to do. When a 200 page book is assigned four weeks in advance, it only requires seven pages of reading a day. Yes, it could be read the weekend before, but this normally results in increased stress while comprehension and test scores drop.
Enlist an accountability partner - Simply forcing yourself to answer to another person for these mini steps will keep you on pace. If you are responsible you will not want to let your partner down.
Make the important urgent - The goal is not just to be efficient with your time but to be effective – to not only get a lot done, but to get the right things done. You must say “no” (or at least “later”) to non-important matters, and turn the important into the urgent. Mastering this discipline is one the biggest challenges for even the most accomplished professionals. For more on this urgently important practice, download this free copy of the Tyranny of the Urgent.
Encourage yourself – I love the description of King David in 1 Samuel 30:6 that says, “David strengthened himself….” It is great to receive kudos and recognition from others, but most days these atta-boys are absent and self-encouragement is needed. It sounds silly, but I give myself a pep talk each morning, reading the same few paragraphs to remind myself of who I am and why I do what I do. I usually leave my morning pep talk with a sense of urgency to attack the day. If you’d like a copy of my pep talk to help you construct your own, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Which of these four tips do you need to employ into your routine to help you move toward urgency and high performance?
Next week, I’ll share some of the downside of living with urgency.