Today’s Episode is sponsored on behalf of CANCERSUPPORTSCOTLAND.ORG
Hello and welcome to Film Pro Productivity, the podcast which helps film professionals and other creatives to live a more focused, effective and HAPPY life. My name is Carter Ferguson and this is EPISODE 35 – DEVELOPING A SENSE OF URGENCY
Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School, John P. Kotter, says “A higher rate of urgency does not imply ever-present panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which COMPLACENCY is virtually absent.”
I talked about A SENSE OF URGENCY last season in my episode entitled DRIVE, but for me it’s really one of the cornerstones of productivity itself. John Kotter’s quote there says it very well. This is not about panic, anxiety or fear (although you may have to fight them off a wee bit along the way) it’s about killing complacency and replacing it with something else. An inner energy that drives your forward, to complete on your plans, to hit deadlines and to achieve great things.
This is one of the productivity terms which I have drawn from the business world, but in all honesty I’m not quite sure who coined it. It may have been Brian Tracy or H. Jackson Brown, but I’m going to settle for on John Kotter as he has literally written a book about it.
In the business world, according to an article written by Annie Sisk in Bizfluent.com, “a sense of urgency” refers to communicating to an individual or team that it’s imperative to act promptly, decisively and without delay. The phrase can be applied in the context of leadership and management, or in the field of marketing and sales. In both cases, the term describes a positive state of mind that smart marketers, managers and business leaders use to evoke in those they market to, manage and lead.
In the context of the individual film pro or freelance creative, we can utilise a sense of urgency in all that we do as who manage ourselves and our careers.
I’ve been keen to do an episode about this for a while, and as I’m pulling all my energy into creating this new season the time now seems right.
I’ve been nurturing the sense of urgency that comes with having to create 18 publicly released Season 3 episodes requires, but even with that proverbial gun at my head, it’s been a slow start.
Like many things in productivity, it’s easy enough to understand the principles but sometimes difficult to put it into action. Distraction and procrastination, those two ninja like enemies of productivity are ever present.
The crowd funding campaign helped me to focus and its success gave me new energy, but at the same time it’s been a huge distraction. My mind had to go into a different place to raise finance and although the overall experience was very positive, and the campaign was successful, I’ve found switching out of “fundraiser mode” and back into “podcast host” mode quite a challenge - but you wouldn’t be listening to this now if I hadn’t gotten over it.
As regular listeners know, I like to utilise large white boards to keep my mind clear and organised. A few days ago I tidied them all up and started making daily schedules of tasks specific not only to my season deadlines, but also to roll out the application of funds raised. My sense of urgency is driven by these lists, and when I feel like taking a break or find my self being distracted I can go to them to find new things to do. This keeps the momentum going that fuels the feeling of urgency.
Even this strategy has had its problems though as yesterday I got caught up in a minor task, that of designing a promotional postcard for the show, that ended up taking me most of the day. PRIORITISING within my lists has now become a primary directive in my efforts.
Today I start, while my mind is fresh, and with yesterday’s distraction task out of the way, by working on the podcast first and foremost. Other tasks, which are perhaps less time sensitive and which require less mental energy are deferred to later in the day.
It’s with this system of checklists, prioritised tasks and a designated timescale for delivery (remember Parkinson’s law here) that my sense of urgency is being honed and leading me to success.
Probably the most powerful quote about URGENCY I’ve come across is from Martin Luther King, Jr. He said:
We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.
Our own deadlines and goals may feel less important than that to which Martin Luther King refers, but we can still take energy and understanding from his words. We must fuel our own internally-derived sense of direction, motivation and compulsion to move or act in ways which benefit our lives, our projects, our careers, our passions and our family.
We must also learn to acknowledge the times when we assume an “I’ll get to it someday,” attitude. Putting off spending quality time with your child for example is not the same as putting off replying to an email. Get your priorities straight when honing your sense of urgency.
Let’s talk for a bit about why having a SENSE OF URGENCY matters. I’m going to be referring here to the article in Bizfluent.com again, as I’m not across the MARKETING and LEADERSHIP applications of the SENSE OF URGENCY concept. I’ll link to it as always in the show notes, which can be accessed through your podcasting app, or on my official website filmproproductivity.com
“There’s significant power in employees and customers acting right “now.” Complacency, after all, is the enemy of progress. A failure to act promptly means that opportunities may be lost. Ultimately this will negatively affect the financial health of the company…” and I’d add to the financial health of the freelancer too…
Thinking of ourselves as businesses is a definite sticking point for some creative people. I say, GET OVER IT, and LIVE A BETTER LIFE.
Lacking a sense of urgency in matters like this often leads to important issues continually being placed on the back burner. If we can learn to be responsive, flexible and nimble in our ability to evaluate and make decisions about new challenges and opportunities - we can only benefit by it.
To foster a sense of urgency, start with yourself. When you understand the “why” behind a particular goal or objective, and more specifically the “why now,” you must put it into action.
The article in BIZFLUENT says.
“Many successful managers and leaders find that increasing a sense of urgency around a particular project or goal is much easier when you get the employees' buy-in on the project from the start. Fostering a feeling of ownership and investment in the project makes a huge difference for participants.” If you’ve ever had to manage a creative team then this makes a lot of sense.
It goes on to say that “Another proven strategy is to emphasize outcome-based results. Focusing on observable, measurable results helps you identify a successful outcome. This, in turn, means you can develop an internal sense of reward and satisfaction for completing a task, which helps increase your motivation level for the next project.” This is something I talk about in my 4 disciplines of execution episode.
Finally, it says, “work to identify the reasons behind complacency in your team or workforce (I’d add, or in yourself). Most people seek fulfillment and satisfaction in their work. If they’re losing their motivation and their sense of pride in a job well-done as a group, there’s something that's contributing to their complacency and diminishing their all-important sense of urgency.” If that;s the case, it must be identified if you are to move passed it.
Brian Tracy loves this topic and he’s an awesome guy so I love him for his insight on it. He talks about creating a BIAS FOR ACTION and says
“Most people talk the talk, but never really walk the walk. You need to treat action steps with a SENSE OF URGENCY. If something is important then learn to ‘do it now’. Don’t put things off - get them done, TODAY.”
A sense of urgency helps turn “someday” and “later” into “today” and “now.” What’s that quote in fact that I’ve used here before? Someday is not really a day of the week you know… It’s kinda funny but it’s true.
If your bias for action is to put it off till tomorrow then you need to start reprogramming yourself and get rid of that delaying crutch. Change up your tempo to something a bit more lively, and as I’ve warned many times before - don’t wait for the planets to get into just the right alignment before you move – if you do that, THE RIGHT TIME will slip through your fingertips. BUILD MOMENTUM – remember it’s much easier to keep a body in motion, than it is to initiate that motion (BRYAN TRACY unquote) and PLAN YOUR WAY - decide on your goals, develop a list of the action steps you need to take, prioritize the list then EXECUTE IT – If you do this you’ll get into what they call a STATE OF FLOW, when all your senses are heightened and every element of your being is working towards a common goal. Finally STAY ENERGISED, keep up your fitness level, drink enough fluids and eat properly so that you can MAINTAIN YOUR STATE OF READINESS.
Call To Action
Your call to action today is to utilise something known as the OWN PRINCIPLE to get you started. OWN has you ask yourself 3 questions, and I want you to ask yourself them right now.
O– asks WHAT OUTCOME DO I WANT?
W - asks WHY DO I WANT THIS?
And N - ends with WHAT CAN I DO NOW TO ACHIEVE MY OUTCOMES?
That’s OWN. OUTCOME, WHY, NOW. One last time - WHAT OUTCOME DO I WANT? WHY DO I WANT IT? WHAT CAN I DO NOW TO ACHIEVE MY OUTCOMES?
I’ll end with the words of ‘Bob Proctor’: ‘Everyone should have a sense of urgency – it is getting a lot done in a short period of time in a calm, confident manner’.
Later on this series I will be doing a mailbag episode, so why don’t you utilise this sense of urgency I’ve been cultivating and make a move to ask me a productivity question that I will answer in that episode? Don’t hand around though as I will be recording it in just a few weeks. You can get in touch via THE CONTACT PAGE on the website FILMPROPRODUCTIVITY.COM or on ANY OF THE SOCIAL NETWORKS. If you are struggling with something then I want to know about it. Get your act together and get in touch.
For now though, take control of your own destiny, get working on your sense of urgency, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY!
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