Our Sense of Urgency

When we evaluate ourselves daily, we should feel as if we accomplished something, profound or not, within that day. Our pride is fueled by how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. Our ambition in our lives is a catalyst for career growth. Limited ambition equals less likelihood of advancement. A declined probability for advancement means less increase in earning potential. Ambition and our adherence to it ebbs and flows as we enter different phases of our lives. Although it takes various forms, it never really leaves our minds. Simply put, your ambition correlates to your passion. What are you passionate about?

One of the critical facets of ambition comes from our sense of urgency. I have found that our sense of urgency in our work is comprised of five factors: Purpose, confidence, competence, value to the team, and accomplishment. Without those five attributes, our urgency declines. Urgency, at its root, is primarily just determining the importance of a task and cataloging it appropriately. The actual “sense” of the word, especially to military folks, is something else entirely. It is the motivation behind every decision and the epitome of our ability to succeed.

Purpose, what is it that I must do? What is the task, menial or not, that I must accomplish? This is the first step in your internal discourse and is very much the driving factor in determining the energy needed and the time it takes to perform that activity. You also have to “buy in” to that purpose and understand your community’s needs. These things should be determined or instructed to you from the outset. Without a defined purpose, you are just spinning your wheels and not gaining any traction.

Confidence, can I do what’s being asked of me? It’s important to note that if you’re not comfortable with the activity, you won’t be able to do it well. Without self-confidence, you will often shrink back into your shell, become complacent, and lose your desire to perform the task. With that loss of desire comes a natural inclination to shirk your duties and become despondent. Having a lack of confidence is not an inherently bad thing. Still, it would help if you communicated appropriately to your leadership that you need assistance understanding the task. Confidence naturally comes with increased practice, which can only be done through repetition. Also, remember that confidence can be had even when dealing with things you don’t know much about. It comes down to your outlook and limiting your perception of others’ opinions.

Competence, like confidence, is one of the root factors in your sense of urgency. Its purpose generally helps the speed at which you deliver your task. Competence is outward proof to others that you can do your job. When analyzing the purpose of the task, we need to understand the length of time it takes to complete that task, whether setting internal due dates or going off the expectations given to us. When determining that timeline and gauging your confidence in your abilities, you must be able to tell yourself that you can competently complete that task within the set parameters. This purpose is paramount to the delivery time of the job, and we must be motivated to complete it promptly. Procrastination is the biggest enemy of our sense of urgency, and a lack of confidence and competence enhances that delay in action.

Your value in your team is essential. It is a pillar of what makes you feel validated and necessary. Our desire to be loved by others and wanted is a core pillar of our humanity. Knowing that the task you are completing adds value to the team is vital in driving your sense of urgency. In that same vein, everyone needs to pull their weight in a team project. It can be pretty obvious what the value of that task is to the team’s agenda and goals. Not buying into the purpose and its relevance to the team mission will inevitably decrease performance and urgency. If you deem the task’s value to your team low or nonimportant, it will also reduce your desire to act.

Oftentimes we find ourselves alone and not part of a team, but in the grand scheme of the project, your accomplishment adds value to some greater purpose. That accomplishment does not always manifest itself with accolades. We are often not even lauded for these individual accomplishments, which is why self-praise is crucial in enhancing our pride and self-satisfaction. You need to reach a point each day where you can walk away feeling accomplished. Part or all of that feeling may be related to simply feeling productive that day. I guarantee that if you lack productivity, you will feel drained, knowing you missed goals and weren’t “useful” that day. Everything you put off inevitably piles up. Feeling accomplished is the last driving factor in our decision to have that sense of urgency in our daily lives.

From the perspective of a former infantryman, every task, no matter how small, drives the team agenda for that day. The group’s mission and our work towards the collective good create a “one team, one fight” methodology. In the same way, we say, “you are only as strong as the weakest link,” it is paramount that you pull your weight and help lift your work team and home team to the finish line. This mentality and sense of urgency should stay with you as the seasons change and your life objectives from your career path to and through your retirement goals. When doing good deeds for others we should act as if no one is watching. When doing our work, no matter how small, we should pretend like the world is watching. You are responsible for applying the right amount of pressure in your day-to-day life.

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