Focus on the Big, Scary, Long Term Goals

by Alan Willett

“You’ll find I’m full of surprises.“

Luke Skywalker

Despite how much we complain, there is a joy to working on urgent items. They give us a ready excuse for not working on the hard things.  

We might shout, “Oh, I can’t work on the crucial long-term work. This crisis must be dealt with quickly!”  

We might even picture ourselves as the hero, with the wind blowing through our hair while wielding a lightsaber as we handle this desperately important thing. (Okay, maybe you haven’t, but I have.)

Someone listening might wonder who we were shouting our complaint to. The answer is that we are almost always shouting to ourselves. Urgent tasks are almost always just an illusion of urgency. The urgent work crisis is seldom like a medical crisis where life and death require rapid actions.

Instead, consider the following three ideas to deal with your next urgent crisis.

  1. Wait. Often the crisis will dissipate like morning dew if we wait it out while working on the important items.
  2. Delegate. If this is not something that will disappear and is essential, how can it help your long-term goals? One of your goals should be growing leaders for the future. Delegate this urgent crisis and mentor the person to success.
  3. Combine. If this is not an easily solved crisis, it is almost certainly related to your longer-term goals for your organization. Use the crisis to accelerate your long-term goals. Work to determine how to combine this crisis with your work. Use this combo to move faster towards your significant achievements.

I can feel the wind in my hair again. Grab your lightsaber. Let’s go after those big goals.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,