shutterstock_264828161What’s the difference between panic and urgency?

Panic: You can usually tell when somebody is in a panic situation. They are making rapid and too often unwise decisions.

Urgency: Is when a person is more calm and deliberate as well as skilled and focused.

Everyone has moments of panic. That’s just part of life and they are unavoidable. Things come at us in ways we cannot imagine. Or can we?

I’m suggesting that you can develop your sense of urgency very much like you can develop your sense of mathematics. I realize mathematics is a skill, but there are some people that seem to have an innate sense of mathematics.

In business and in life we need to deal with unexpected situations all the time. How we react will determine our success and sometimes our very survival.

Below are Five Tips for Developing Your Sense of Urgency. These are not designed to address every issue or ensure there is never a sense of panic. Panic situations will always come up. The fact is that panic situations are stressors that help us grow and adapt. But, with some practice a way of thinking can be developed that can help anyone build a base level of preparedness.

With preparation that sense of panic can be turned into a sense of urgency.

A few examples might be useful. In these, we can’t predict them, but we can prepare for them. The way to develop your sense of urgency is to consider scenarios and plan for them. Sometimes they might be worst case scenarios with dire consequences. You don’t need to start your envisioning with those. Start with a few easy ones. Then as you build your skills throw in a curve ball to shake things up. By thinking through the possibilities a case can be made for these being more of a sense of urgency instead of panic when something does occur.

Potentially Panic-Inducing Examples:

  • Automobile Accidents – No one wants to be in one. No one can predict when and where an accident will happen. If you are involved in an accident, you can think through a mental checklist (or write it down if it helps). For example, check to see if there are any injuries, snap a few pics (if it’s safe) and get off the road. Then exchange information.
  • Emergency Room Visits – Doctors and Nurses don’t know what to expect at any given moment, but through preparation, planning and practice they can be ready for almost anything that comes their way.
  • Sales Situation – Whether you are applying for a job (yes, this is selling) or asking for the order you should have thought through at least a few scenarios.
    • Pro-Tip: If the customer says yes … stop talking and book the order.

A Sense of Urgency

When someone has a sense of urgency that’s a good thing.

  • A Sense of Urgency (SOU) typically means they’re committed to their role, their practice (line of business) and their goals.
  • Key Point: Someone with a sense of urgency is also usually focused on YOUR goals. To the point where your goals matter as much as theirs.
  • Connected SOU’s – And they help you see their sense of urgency and your sense of urgency are tied together for a mutually successful outcome.

SOU and Problem Solving

Generally someone with a sense of urgency is often focused on solving a specific problem. Yet, that “problem” may be part of a much bigger scenario. Think of the development of a software program or the Space Shuttle program.

Note: Each problem or issue may not need to be solved immediately. In fact, those best at applying a sense of urgency also know how to use time to their advantage. I don’t mean this in a slick or smarmy way. I mean in the sense that by carefully laying out the options they can make sure no one needs to make a panic based decision.

Someone with a sense of panic is usually the opposite they will do anything they can or need to to get whatever it is done.

People that can balance their sense of urgency will stand out in their careers. People will notice that panic does not end careers, but being prepared for a lot of unforeseen eventualities can and will help define a career.

Simply Put: People that handle urgency and build it into their business plans and life plans will do well and will stand out in their careers.

People will want you in their corner when the situation gets challenging. People will ask for you by name because they know you think things through.

Five Tips for Developing Your Sense of Urgency

  1. Have a Plan – Yes, document it.
  2. Communicate Your Plan – This is elegant in its simplicity. Share your plan. A Shared Plan is an excellent footstep towards Achieved Goal.
  3. Share the Results – Good or bad, share what you learned and experienced.
  4. Re-Visit Your Plan – Ask yourself and others – Is it working? Be brutally candid.
  5. Adjust – There is no shame in making adjustments. If something isn’t working … adjust, re-try, re-measure, and adjust again if needed.

Remember: A Sense of Urgency is better than The Crush of Panic.