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Learning to practice ‘urgent patience’

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

False urgency equals busyness: It’s stressful, exhausting and unproductive.

True urgency feels powerful: It’s relentless, steady and purposeful.

To sort out the truly urgent from mere distractions and get on with it, John Kotter, author of A Sense of Urgency, offers these four practical suggestions:

1. Bring the real world inside.
That means using every possible lever from the outside world—data, customers, video clips, whatever—to drive your enterprise.

2. Conduct yourself with a sense of urgency, not anxiety or anger.

3. Look past looming crises
so you can pinpoint opportunities. Fear can transfix even bright and brash people. Mobilize them to act.

4. Sideline the naysayers.
These are the people who don’t care and just want to be left alone in their complacency.
Kotter advocates “urgent patience,” or acting with firmness of purpose, not frenzy, while keeping a realistic view of time. He explains, “It means recognizing that five years may be needed to attain important and ambitious goals, and yet coming to work each day committed to finding every opportunity to make progress toward those goals.” It’s the attitude that helped Toyota transform itself into the No. 1 carmaker in the world.

— Adapted from A Sense of Urgency, John Kotter, Harvard Business School Press.

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