Thursday, February 7, 2008

A sense of urgency

I’ve been preoccupied with a sense of urgency lately. Maybe preoccupied is the wrong word. Perhaps consumed is a better way of describing the sense of urgency I have been experiencing.

Now let’s be clear. I am not saying that we need to be so caught up in driving ourselves at 150% that we experience great results for a short period, only to experience the inevitable energy depletion that occurs after time of peak exertion has passed. It’s not about living a life in a panic – it’s about living a life with the right priorities in front of us. Stephen Covey refers to it as Q II or Quadrant II living. Those who would have you believe that they deliver consistent results while pushing themselves at superhuman speeds are deceiving you, themselves and everyone else.

I’m talking about the times we recognize the need to do something that we know is important and we put it off until later. I’m thinking of times when Life lays a tremendous opportunity before us and we get excited about it and then we put it on a shelf, succumbing to the demands of others who are expressing their own sense of urgency and using us to fulfill it. I’m thinking of when client opportunities are abundant but we choose to ignore them in the hopes that something better will manifest, only to end up with nothing when the “hoped for” opportunity doesn’t solidify and the “sure items” disappear in a cloud of client disappointment or frustration when we choose not to execute because we were focused on something else.

Where is the sense of urgency in the corporate world, with so many opportunities sliding by because we couldn’t get a simple piece of paper signed, or someone could have helped someone else close a deal but chose not to, saying “there’s nothing in it for me” or “I’ve made my quota – you go make yours”. How about when asking a difficult question could produce a great result, but our sense of urgency can’t overcome our fear of asking the question, so the question goes unasked?

How about all the folks in the world who are waiting for their passion to be ignited or their passion to be fulfilled – waiting for the right moment that never comes because the sense of urgency is not strong enough to break the inertia of comfort, leaving them in a maelstrom of frustration or depression as they passively wait for the moment when they feel appreciated and satisfied.

The same could be said when great energy is raised at an empowering event but for which no follow up occurs or it doesn’t occur in a timely fashion. The sense of urgency regarding transforming that energy into positive action items doesn’t appear to exist and the energy dissipates.

How about a sense of urgency when it comes to our health? Sure, we can go ahead and eat that extra hamburger or other indulgence once in a while, but at what point do we lose the sense of urgency about our health and decide that we can always start being healthier tomorrow, and then the day after?

Where is our sense of urgency when it comes to our relationships? How many times do we do or say something to loved ones, children or life partners without understanding that this might be the last time we will ever communicate? We’ve all heard or experienced stories about people who wished they could take a moment or a harsh word back but lost the opportunity when someone’s life came to and end earlier than expected. Perhaps if we had a greater sense of urgency about living and thought about our actions before such things happen, then we would have fewer opportunities for regret later.

We all have a sense of urgency when it comes to getting our taxes done on time, when it comes to making sure we pick up the latest gadget or not disappointing someone else. We have all witnessed the sense of urgency when someone is praying for someone in need but we rarely see the same person pray with the same sense of urgency in gratitude just because things are going well. Imagine the power that we could derive from making sure that we apply the same heightened sense of urgency when it comes to investing in ourselves on a day to day basis.

We’ve all heard the old adage “live every day as if it were your last” but how many of us really do it? I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to “I’ll worry about that tomorrow”. While it is possible that we can’t live every day as if it were our last (despite our best hopes and intentions) have you ever tried it for one day? It is a very interesting exercise.

Here is an interesting experiment that I encourage you to try. Pick a day for this event – don’t schedule a day that is deliberately easy or absent of things to do because that takes the learning opportunity out of it. Try picking a day that is action packed with stuff that you consider “important”.

Now ask yourself this question. Given all of the things you see before you and given that today is your last day on this earth, what do you need to put in order before you die? This can’t be an academic exercise – you must FEEL this in order for the exercise to be effective. Feel as well that you have been given a gift of unlimited power to achieve that which you choose to achieve and that whatever you decide you will do today, you will achieve it. If you can’t feel it, I would posit that you are allowing the world to tell you what is important to you rather than you discovering what is important for you.

Let your mind flow over and around the possibilities. We might reach out to so and so and tell them “I love you”. Maybe we would reach out to a friend whose conversations, once treasured, have ceased because of a harsh word long since forgotten. Perhaps we can reach out to a work associate who has been struggling to make something happen and help them execute it. Maybe we would step away for ½ an hour and go to a place of comfort for us, whether a forest, a park, a beach, a bustling downtown or some other place of peace for us and just breathe and soak it up, contemplating our existence and asking the questions “Who am I”, “Why am I here”, “Where am I going”, and “What is my purpose”.

Perhaps we might consider that soup kitchen down the street that we have been promising ourselves for years that we will help out with, offering a word of encouragement to others who REALLY need it.

Maybe there is a business that we have dreamed about for years, always putting off starting it because we believed that we didn’t have the time, energy, money, brains, good looks, friends, business contacts, customers or whatever else we feel we are short of. If we were given the gift of it being successful just because we wished it, then we would go for it, wouldn’t we?

How about reaching out and doing something special and spontaneous for your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – it is indeed the thought that counts.

The truth is that today may be your last day just as it may be mine. One of our fellow Personal Empowerment members recently had dramatic heart valve replacement surgery. Ask him how close we are to breathing our last.

It is also true that if we overcome our limited belief systems, then we are capable of achieving anything we wish. We do in fact have this unlimited power to achieve what we choose. However, we have been convinced by others that we either don’t have this power or it is foolish to believe such things or this power exists in limited amounts and the person exerting influence over you currently has the last vestiges of this energy.

To overcome the inertia that keeps us trapped in our comfort zone, or rather, keeps us trapped in someone else’s comfort zone requires a sense of urgency. If someone asked you to climb down a steep embankment for fun, you would tell them to take a hike. If you saw a young child hanging precariously over the same embankment, you would act without thinking and without consideration for yourself. It comes down to the sense of urgency that you feel within.

How strong is your sense of urgency? Do you even have one? Do you even care that the miracle of your life is moving by while your list of “I will be fulfilled when ….” grows longer. Perhaps you are one of the few who aspires for very little in life and you have everything you need. If you are one of those, you are lucky. However, most people aspire to leave a legacy, to follow their calling in order to satisfy their congruence of passion and intention.

What do you need to do today to increase your sense of urgency so that the miracle that is your life can be focused on making a difference? Find that which increases your sense of urgency, stoke up your passion, never accept the opinion of naysayers and start down the path that is your destiny. To not do so leads to frustration and is contrary to the miracles you were intended to achieve. Don’t rely on others to define your sense of urgency for you. You know what it is – act upon it and stop waiting. A life of incredible fulfillment awaits you.

Do you feel a sense of urgency to create miracles in your life and the lives of others?

If not: Why not?

If so: What are you doing to REALLY bring it to fruition? Planning to do this, intending to do that, etc. doesn’t count – what are you really doing right now?

To your success.


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