Get Out of The Weeds and Resist the Tyranny of the Urgent

by Frank L. Williams

Anyone who has ever managed a business or other organization has likely fallen victim to what has been described as the “tyranny of the urgent.” This term is used to describe situations in which leaders become so consumed putting out fires or responding to the next phone call, meeting, email or task that they neglect what Stephen Covey refers to as “Quadrant II” activities. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey defines Quadrant II activities as things that are important, but not urgent.

Examples of Quadrant II activities include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Personal and professional development
  • Developing your team
  • Exercising
  • Spending quality time with your family
  • Networking and relationship-building. 

As we approach the end of the year, now is a good time to resist the tyranny of the urgent, get your mind out of the weeds and look at the big picture.

Take Time to Reflect

With that in mind, I encourage you to take some time to consider the following between now and the end of the year:

  • If you are a business owner, why are you in business? What do you want your life to look like? What do you want your business to do for you personally?
  • What is your vision? What do you want your business to look like in five years?
  • What is your passion? What aspects of your business excite you and motivate you? What tasks seem like drudgery?
  • What is your skill set? At what tasks in your business are you the most skilled, and in which areas do you feel like a duck out of water?
  • What is your focus? How can you outsource or delegate those that feel like drudgery, are time-suckers or are outside of your skill set in order to focus on priorities where you will be most effective?
  • What is your desired reputation? How do you want key publics to feel about your business or organization? Is your desired reputation in line with reality?
  • What are your communication goals? What communication goals should you establish to help make your vision a reality?
  • Where do you start? What strategies, tactics and action steps should you take in the new year to achieve those goals?

I know how difficult it can be to find the time to engage in this sort of thought and reflection. Even though I advise clients to do so, I have difficulty carving out time to do it myself. If it’s going to happen, I have to decide that it is a real priority and make time for it. Additionally, I’ve found that it is helpful to find a quiet, secluded place free of interruptions and distractions. 

During the final six weeks of 2017, I plan to carve out time to reflect on what I want my life to look like and how my business fits into hat vision. I encourage you to do the same.

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Frank L. Williams

Frank is the founder and president of Pioneer Strategies.