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Why You Need to Choose the Important Over the Urgent

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A few weeks ago, I had an onsite training for a new customer. We had already completed the first session a week earlier. This second session was going to last most of the morning and I was excited to conduct this session, as the initial one had gone extremely well.

At 8:15am, I walked into their office noticed things were buzzing. Everyone was moving and seemed very focused on the task at hand. I made my way into the training room to begin setting up. One of the more senior team members came in and sat down. I asked how his morning was going and he said, “Well, we have about 7 deals in one stage or the other right now that need our attention. So, today is kind of a crazy day.”

When I heard this, I thought to myself, “Uh oh! This won’t go well today. Everyone will be distracted, running in and out of the meeting and checking their phones for messages.” I decided to make the best of it as I have seen it many times before. Regardless of my “requiring” people to shut down email and focus on the training, there are always those who feel the world is going to end if they are not connected at all times.

Choosing to be Present

Then something strange and wonderful happened. Once everyone was gathered, the Managing Partner took a minute to address me in front of the team.

He said, “Jack, what I shared with the team is that we ARE doing this training today. We need to realize that as professionals, we need to balance the urgent and the important. This training is not urgent, but it is important. And if we skip it today, we will just continue delaying the development of our practice and not progress. It would have been easy to have cancelled today’s meeting or allowed people to miss because of the urgent. But I wanted to let you know, everyone is here and will be present and participating throughout, because this is important.”

This company wants to grow but they have been limited because one person does most of the business development and sales. Due to the size of their transactions, they only need a handful each year to make it work. However, in order to grow, they need to identify more opportunities.
But it was not just about business outcomes. The Managing Partner wants his team to develop professionally. In their business, execution is important, but also bringing in new business puts them on a whole new and exciting level professionally.

Sweet Music

It was like a symphony to my ears. Why? This is the commitment you need to make change. I have plenty of clients who are interrupted or sheepishly come to a meeting saying they have not completed something we talked about because they are so busy. The urgent got in the way of the important. Those people are also frustrated by their lack of progress.

Often, we are our own worst enemies. We have to consciously choose to change our behavior. So, what is important that you have been delaying due to the urgent?

Take some time to identify and prioritize the most important projects that will have the biggest impact on your success. It could be as simple as better time management (okay, that is not simple). It could be a complete rebranding of your company or, a rethinking of your entire sales culture. 

Whatever it is, do what my client did. Make time for the important, because you will be better equipped to take care of the urgent.

Jack Kelly
Jack Kelly
Jack founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.
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