What’s Really Wrong With Urgency Addiction?

Business Insider tipped me on this post from Mark Suster on his Both Sides of the Table (investor and entrepreneur) blog. Especially the drawing below. Notice importance on the vertical, and urgency on the horizontal. At first glance, it seems to me like operating in the upper right quadrant is a good thing. You’re addressing urgent and important problems.

But that’s what makes the post interesting (or more interesting): in fact, if you live in the upper right, you’re suffering from urgency addiction. He’s paraphrasing Steven Covey in the book First Things First as he answers:

You retain less knowledge.  You take shortcuts.  You make too many trade-offs.  You suffer too many internal stresses.

Okay, I guess. I wasn’t entirely convinced, to tell the truth; and Mark himself notes that urgent and important is still pretty attractive. He says:

Actually, people with the “urgency addiction” thrive on the pressure.  We rise to the occasion as it stirs our creative juices.  There is something about the adrenaline rush of being under time pressure that excites us and teases out our creativity.

Don’t you want to join him there, in that upper right quadrant, when you read that? I do.

But then it turns out, reading even further, that I want to be in the zone of effectiveness. Do you think maybe that’s why they named it that? Here’s how Mark (again, paraphrasing Covey) describes it:

The examples that Covey talks about here are things like exercise and planning.  They can’t be rushed.  If you can carve out some time during your day to not sit in meetings but instead to dedicate to thinking about the longer-term, strategic initiatives that are important to you then you’ll do bigger things in life.

That sounds really good to me: Exercise and planning, and long-term thinking too. It makes me think twice about urgency addiction. If only there weren’t those urgent important matters to deal with first…

(Image credit: I took it from Mark Suster’s Both Sides of the Table. Click it for the original)


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