Blog Post - May 1, 2019

Fight The Urgent

Reflections from Mike, Dairyland’s President.

I have good intentions. Lots of them. You wouldn’t believe the number of things I plan to do – in my mind. Wired as an optimist, I can reset pretty easily when I get off track, reminding myself that “this is do-able.” Sometimes my optimism can lead to over-committing, but I’m learning to be more realistic over time. Still, this is optimism on my part with an intention to truly act and carry through to the goal.

Sometimes the opposite is true. I can look at upcoming tasks or goals and pessimistically consider what it takes to start or complete that effort. What happened to that optimist? He must have been hit by the Boulder of Reality while climbing the hill. Thwaak!

I find that there is a third variation that operates in the grey, in between the first two. These are the roles or tasks that I want to perform, and feel strongly about, but with deeper reflection I find that I don’t really have a plan. If I’m being honest, I have to question what my intentions and priorities are, when those “important” things don’t get done over a long period of time.

If we are being honest, isn’t it nice when there are enough hot, burning fires in our day that we can easily hide behind the urgency of those tasks to not perform what is truly important?

In the short term, it’s easy to escape accountability (to ourselves, if not someone else) when the fires demand our immediate attention. Sometimes, it feels good to be a problem-solver, applying triage to the crisis-du-jour. However, there are things that I know I should get to that don’t seem to rise to the surface – what about those?

Typing On Laptop

I recommend that everyone read an important guiding principle about the “urgent versus the important.” Just search the internet for those terms and you will find it instantly. Dwight Eisenhower was the master of this principle, with vast responsibility leading up to Operation Overlord to retake Europe in World War II. We may not have the responsibility of an Eisenhower, but we all daily fight the urgent versus the important. Getting the two straight will help each of us with prioritizing work and personal life.

So, what is urgent and what is important? We each have to determine that, but leadership at Dairyland recognizes that there are truly important human needs that must be addressed, and we can’t let distraction get in our way.

Read elsewhere on this blog about the soul-crushing existence of people around the world whose basic needs are not even close to being met. Another day, I’ll write about my trip to South Sudan, where this was on full display, reminding me how utterly desperate many are living in this world and how little it takes to change their existence for the better. Other needs are obvious to us right in our own community.

My goal, for myself and Dairyland, is to fight any lack of planning, as well as the distracted “squirrel” moments, and move ever more toward being intentional about how to address those needs.

We want to Live Engaged, using our talents, resources, and service to positively affect the world around us. Something good also happens in us when we do so.