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Where’s your sense of urgency?

It is human nature to start in a new position with enthusiasm, lofty goals, new ideas, and a heightened awareness of those around us and their ideas for the business.

After time in our job positions

And it is an unfortunate truism that most of us become a bit stale in our jobs after some time, even if we are most successful at it and appreciated by all who work for or with us.

The signs of complacency

It is equally human for anyone to become complacent to some degree after an initial flurry of effort, ideas, reorganizations, brilliant decisions, and early successes.  But complacency is relative.  There is no direct measure to determine when you as manager, even CEO, have run out of new ideas and that sense of heightened awareness.

The good side of this

Usually complacency in your work environment is masked by having a better grip on the real drivers of the business, being able to quickly see when things are not going right or people not performing to their peak.

Think back in time

[Email readers, continue here…]   But think back to those first days on the job.  You were ready and willing to effect change, to listen to anyone, to take in ideas, and share yours with your peers.  You spent extra hours more often in creative efforts, encouraged discourse, and delved into new ideas and projects with enthusiasm.

You exhibited a sense of urgency that charged your direct reports, made you want to come to work every day refreshed, and demonstrated to all that something special was happening in their world.

Now how about “your today?”

Can you honestly state that your sense of urgency remains today at the same level as when you first started at this position?  Few of us could, and that is the reason why investors often feel that turnover in executive ranks is not so bad after all.  The average life of a CEO in that position is shorter today than ever before, partly because investors expect continual acceleration, and partly because a person seems to have only so much new material to offer.

If each of us could maintain that same sense of urgency that drove us to succeed early on, our peers, direct reports, investors, and stakeholders would all notice and respond accordingly.

How to regain that sense of urgency

Challenging your peers and reports to come up with new ideas, solutions, projects, and improvement in processes – all are signs that you are still in control of your sense of urgency.  It is hard for those around you to slack off with such a whirlwind adjacent.

The story of an “urgent CEO”

I have previously told the story of the successful CEO who drove to work each Monday morning asking himself, “What if this were my first day on the job as CEO?  What would I do?”  He kept his company and his peers always thinking ahead, if nothing else to prevent his surprising them with ideas and solutions to problems that should have been uncovered and acted upon earlier.

Reinvent yourself as if tomorrow will be your first day

It is not an easy task – reinventing yourself to be that person you were on the first day, but with the knowledge and experience you’ve since gained.  But it is an important part of being a great manager and retaining the focus upon excellence that certainly drove you to succeed in the first place.

  • Cricket Lee

    I’ve found that after 18 years of working to bring a big vision into a resistant landscape, it is indeed difficult to stay committed, much less creative.

    I have a before sleep and before wake exercise of emotionally renewing my passion and feelings for the end goal. In my heart I know the end result even when my reflections continue to tell me it’s impossible.

    I take great comfort in those who say you can have anything you want if you just never give up. It’s that daily reinvention of yourself that makes the difference.

    Thanks, Dave, for your continual reminders of all that it takes to be a great entrepreneur. You are my guiding light!

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