Important Versus Urgent

September 24, 2020  |  Posted by in Leadership Development, Sales Planning

I recently listened to a talk by Scott Belsky, author of The Messy Middle. A portion of his talk emphasized the necessity for leaders to stay focused on the “important,” even when the “urgent” is demanding their attention. He defined the “important” as the proactive decisions that are necessary for a business’ long-term sustainability and the “urgent” as reactive decisions that have a short-term impact.

As leaders, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the “urgent” things that are coming in. Whether it’s our inboxes, our phones, or our desks, the non-stop stream of pressing tasks placed in front of us on a daily basis can easily take up all our time. This has been an especially common scenario in 2020, as many of us have been inundated with the urgency of managing our businesses in the face of massive change. While it is necessary to sometimes take quick action for short-term gains, we need to be careful and mindful in our approach to doing so. If we’re not mindful, the tasks we perceive as urgent can quickly catapult us into a chronically reactive mode where we consistently operate out of a short-term, reactive mindset (rather than a long-term, proactive mindset).

As a leader, you have to maintain a proactive, long-term focus. In everything you think and do, it is your responsibility to ensure that the decisions you make will lead to long-term success for your organization. Look past short-term gains and towards long-term sustainability. It’s impossible to do this when you are operating out of a chronically reactive mindset that only allows you to focus on urgency.

The urgent decisions we make in the short-term can prevent us from focusing on the important decisions that will affect the long-term success of our business.

As mentioned above, the struggle between urgent and important tasks has intensified over the last year. Many of us have had to make one urgent decision after another in the face of unprecedented change. As a result, it’s probably safe to say that the “chronically reactive leaders” club gained quite a few members in 2020. This is why we must be mindful of what’s urgent versus what’s important. If we’re not, we’ll unknowingly let our reactive mind continue to make short-term decisions and blindside us to what is important to the long-term health and sustainability of our business.

The moral of the story is this: we can’t forget what’s important even in the face of urgency. Ultimately, it all comes down to our mindset and how we spend our time. A tip Belsky suggested to help you get out of a reactive mindset is to set aside a two-hour block each day to purposefully not react to your inbox or your phone. Use this time to be proactive and think about the decisions you can make or the initiatives you can undergo that will lead to long-term success for your business. Protect and prioritize those couple hours each day, because the long-term sustainability of your business depends on it!

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