This has been a very busy year so far. By busy I mean that all across the company we are working on initiatives that impact both our short term day-to-day existence and those that are critical to our long term strategy and growth. There is always the danger when it gets super busy to become complacent about the day-to-day activities that are a necessary part of our jobs. You know, the boring stuff that we actually have to do in order to keep the ship moving. Like email marketing, making sales calls, handling customer issues, operations… it becomes very easy to get complacent and go through the motions – oh, well – it’s just another day – I’ll make my calls, do my thing…I wonder who’s gonna get voted off Idol…etc.
I’ve done it, we’ve all been there, done that. It’s hard to maintain a high level of energy and urgency every day. And by urgent, I don’t mean “on Fire”, or running around like a chicken with your head cut off. I mean urgent in the sense that it matters. Important is another word that comes to mind, but important doesn’t have the same weight. There is often no immediate or perceived deadline with important, it matters, but maybe not that that much – as in, yeah I really should do that and at some point I will get to it.
Urgent, though – now there’s the stuff. It’s not only important, but by God this better get done. That there will be something good that happens if I follow through, or that there will be consequences if I fail. And while not everything can be deemed Urgent, because believe me, I have created more than my share of project plans, Gantt charts, and punch lists with everything being the highest priority – and while I do favor the color red that’s really not that helpful. So yes, of course it comes down to prioritization, but I believe that the most successful companies have a sense of urgency and make that a part of their culture.
Now there is a reasonable sense of urgency and there is also the potential to create artificial stress – and I have been at a few companies that have taken a sense of urgency and have multiplied it a hundred fold into full blown “FIRE IN THE HOLE” 24/7. That is not so fun. But neither is feeling that your daily work is just that – daily work. For I consider myself blessed to be able to say that I enjoy my job – it is not always fun – it usually involves solving a crisis or two almost daily – but what I am able to take away from it at the end of the day is – it matters.
It matters if I make that extra call. It matters if that last email gets returned or that webpage gets updated. I would like to think that everyone at our company – whether things are good or bad at any particular moment – understands that their role is important and matters to the bottom line of the company. And it is primarily my job as a manager to instill that belief to everyone on our team – a job that I fail at sometimes given the ebb and flow of daily fires, deadlines, and pressure.
But it is with a sense of urgency that I continue to work everyday and try to do just that – get things done, motivate my team even when it’s not the best of times and situations, and to try and keep us all focused on what matters – that we are fortunate – fortunate to be working when so many are struggling, fortunate to have a culture where flexibility exists, and fortunate for the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way (every role in the company really is critical) and for those of us who are lucky enough to do what we like to do for a living, it is both importance and urgency that are key contributors to success.