Urgency is a Catalyst, Seldom A Sustainer

Urgency is good, but only in doses. If we rely consistently on urgency, what do we get? Stress, poor decision-making, and decreased creativity. Urgency has a short shelf-life, it relies heavily on emotion and that emotion dissipates, so in the long run you should rely on vision and discipline to keep you going over a long period of time.

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Episode Show Notes

Today's lesson:
Urgency is a Catalyst, Seldom A Sustainer

Key Points:
Urgency is good, but only in doses. If we rely consistently on urgency, what do we get? Stress, poor decision-making, and decreased creativity. Urgency has a short shelf-life, it relies heavily on emotion and that emotion dissipates, so in the long run you should rely on vision and discipline to keep you going over a long period of time.

Today's key action:
Here it is: Keep your sustainability/urgency ratio higher than 3:1. For every 1 week that’s absolutely crazy, you need 3 that aren’t. For every piece of messaging you give to your team about pushing harder, send 3 that are about pace, intention, and sustainability.

Episode Transcript

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0:00:05.7 Junior: Welcome back, everyone, to Culture by Design. My name's Junior, I'm here with Dr. Tim Clark for a single-point lesson, the most valuable 10 minutes you'll spend in professional development all week. Tim, what's the lesson today? 

0:00:18.3 Tim: Lesson today is the Urgency is a Catalyst, Seldom a Sustainer.

0:00:24.5 Junior: Jim Rohn said urgency is the mother of action, but it is not the father of sustainability. So what is urgency? Here are some synonyms for you. Immediacy, importance, necessity, pressure, haste, speed, timeliness. Those are really interesting words. And there's a place for them. And what is urgency now? Well, Stephen Covey said urgency is not a synonym for panic, so we won't put panic in there. What is sustainability? Sustainable means able to be maintained at a certain rate or level, able to be upheld indefinitely. Its synonyms, continual, viable, unending, renewable, support able. Its antonyms, untenable, tiring, brief, fleeting, unendurable. So what are we saying? That immediacy, importance, pressure speed cannot be maintained at a high rate or high level for a really long time.

0:01:22.8 Tim: That's right, Junior. Urgency... So we really need to dig into this. Urgency has a short shelf life. Why? Because most of the time, it relies heavily on emotion, and that emotion dissipates quickly, so in the long run, you've gotta look to other sources, you need another kind of fuel or a source of fuel, so you're gonna rely on vision, you're going to rely on your own discipline, you're going to rely on your own dedication to keep you going over a long period of time, what if you have a long-term goal, what if you have something that is going to take you a long time to accomplish, what are you going to need? You're going to need to be able to delay gratification, you're going to need to exhibit plan deprivation. These are other sources of fuel to sustain your effort over time, long after that sense of urgency is gone, long after. So that's the difference.

0:02:32.1 Junior: Well, there's a paradox here. Urgency is good, we wanna increase it, but urgency is dangerous, we wanna decrease it, and it's hard to know exactly what the balance should be, so if we rely consistently on urgency, what do we get? What are the outcomes? Stress is one, poor decision-making is another. We don't have enough time to get good information, we don't have enough time for analysis, decreased creativity, we don't have time to let things marinate, we don't have time to explore. So as you said, there has to be a fuel that doesn't burn as hot and as fast as urgency does, so what is that? It's mission, it's discipline, it's long-term goals, it's long-term-ism, we can use urgency to get going, but then we need to shift to a fuel that burns a little bit slower. So Tim, tell me a little bit about mission and discipline and that longer-lasting, more sustainable fuel.

0:03:35.3 Tim: Mission relates to why you're doing what you're doing, why... For example, in an organizational setting, why does your institution exist, why are you setting out to accomplish a certain goal, so it gives you that larger sense of why you're in it, what are you trying to accomplish? Why are you going after this? And that becomes more of a sustainable source of motivation over time, and that's what you need because for any large goal, any large aim, it's going to be a long hard slog, it's going to be an expedition, there will be adversity, there will be obstacles in the path, and we need to prepare for those. They're going to be there. So we assume that all of the obstacles and the adversity and the challenges will come, especially with some type of long-term goal. So we need to plan for that.

0:04:48.3 Junior: I think looking at it as a balance is a really appropriate thing to do, and I wanna make it clear that we're not saying that urgency is bad. Urgency is good, and we should operate a lot of time with a lot of urgency. But if that's all we have, then we're going to come up short almost every time. And so, speaking of mission, do you know what your mission is, personally, professionally, institutionally? If you can't define what the overarching goal is, what the north star is, that's way out in the distance, you're going to have a really long time, really hard time. And you think about that at a personal level, you should be able to answer that question. Why are you here and what are you here for? Well, if that's not pulling you forward, if that's not pulling you north is gonna be difficult. Hey, what's the purpose of your career? I don't know. What's the purpose of the organization? Why are you doing what you do? I'm not sure. Those won't be satisfactory answers if you're looking to create something that's truly high-performing if you're trying to be a high performer yourself. So define your mission and do that across every aspect of your life, personal, professional, social, intellectual, do that institutionally, make sure that people are aligned around that, it's an important thing to do.

0:06:16.2 Tim: Yeah, I just wanna make one other distinction, and that is there are two kinds of motivation, motivation towards something, and motivation away from something, the motivation towards something is attraction. And that's what mission is, that's what vision is. Motivation away from something is repulsion, and that is usually associated with pain or discomfort, over time, for most people, the motivation towards something, that attraction is a superior force and it's a more sustainable force, so we need to think about that, and we all need to analyze our motivation. Am I being drawn to something? Am I being repulsed away by something? What is the source of... What is the source of my motivation and how sustainable is it? 

0:07:12.0 Junior: I really love that point, and I do agree that in sustainability, the toward is going to far surpass, but you will run pretty fast if there's a bear chasing you, so that can be pretty high utility, too.

0:07:24.7 Tim: That's true.

0:07:26.5 Junior: So here's the next point. Be intentional about zooming in and zooming out. This is something that I think a lot about for me, personally. My lens needs to be able to shift from minutes and hours and have another lens that lives at days and weeks, and another lens that lives at years and decades, and you need to go in and out of those micro and macro level lenses. If you're always zoomed in to the hour, you can lose sight of where you're going, if you're only looking at one year, you can lose sight of the 10, 20, 50-year picture. And so I think it's appropriate to spend time in each of those and look at time through different perspective. So, Tim, as we wrap up, any final thoughts today? 

0:08:18.4 Tim: Yeah, just one final thought and that is, let's remember that urgency is very important, but often it's a booster rocket, it gets us started, but it does not sustain the journey, and so we have to switch over to other fuel sources. I think that's the main point that we're making here today.

0:08:37.9 Junior: I love that, and thinking about it as a rocket makes a ton of sense, you gotta get off the ground, but once you're in orbit, you're not going to need that same thruster. Okay, so what's the single thing we would invite you to do to help put this into practice? Here it is, keep your sustainability to urgency ratio higher than 3:1. Here's what we mean. For every one week that's absolutely crazy, you need three that aren't. For every piece of messaging you give to your team about pushing harder, send three that are about pace, intention and sustainability, because if you're only pushing down the lever of urgency, your team's gonna burn out, you're gonna burn out. If you're only talking about sustainability, you won't move as fast as you could, and when it... When you get into a pinch, you might not have that gear that you need to get the thing done. And so I think approaching this in a ratio makes a lot of sense. Is the perfect ratio 3:1. I know. You'll have to find out for yourself, but I think that's a pretty good place to start.

0:09:40.0 Junior: So thank you, everyone, for your time and attention during today's single-point lesson. We hope that this was 10 minutes well spent. We'll see you next time. Bye-bye.

[music]

Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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