How do some entrepreneurs create five successful companies while others struggle to get their first one off the ground?
What separates dreamers from the doers?
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Do they have special abilities? Maybe.
Are they smarter? It’s possible.
Do they have strong connections? It may play a role.
But, these are secondary when it comes to creation. It’s only through the fire of trial and error that you hone your skills and create work worthy of being recognized.
Your special abilities won’t come into play unless you hone them.
Intelligence won’t help you unless you challenge it.
Your connections won’t assist you if you prove unworthy.
The most prolific people in all walks of life have learned to embrace the urgency of creation. They’ve learned to put out a massive body of work in order to hone their craft and create something truly worthwhile1 Ira Glass, one of my favorite storytellers, has a video where he talks about the sheer volume of work you need to put out before you can become good then great. The problem is, most people stop along the way. Take a look:
It’s been called many things by many people. Some call it hustle, some call it drive, some call it responsiveness. No matter what term you use to describe it, the outcome is the same.
You do more in a shorter amount of time and the quality of your work improves faster. The sense of urgency in creation drives individuals, organizations, and even countries to work harder than what’s expected. They peek their head above the cacophony. They leave the rat race.
When you’re smaller and haven’t gorged on success, you work as if your life depends on it. Not many people can sustain it over a long period of time. We’re humans.
The sense of urgency in creation is everywhere if you know where to look.
After World War II, Germany was left as a shell of its former self. They knew if they were to have a chance to rebuild, they’d need to look inside. Sure, they got grants from the US but that isn’t what propelled them to the position they hold now.
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do.
Leonardo da Vinci
When Buffer started, the Cofounder, Leo Widrich, used guest posting to get their first 100,000 users. They didn’t have the money for paid marketing or the team for targeting different channels. They embraced the sense of urgency for their startup and chose one thing to do well. They focused.
Think about when you’ve had a deadline looming, you suddenly get more done in less time. This is classic Parkinson’s Law at work.
In an interesting piece of research by Esienhardt and Brown, they spoke on what they call time pacing. In mature markets, businesses change in reaction to technology and competition. Instead of this approach, they identified successful companies that innovate on deadlines.
Netflix produces a new product every six months and Intel adds a new fabrication factory every nine months. This sense of urgency — creation on a deadline —concentrates efforts and rips away nonessentials.
The key to time pacing is shifting correctly from one project to the next while keeping a constant, almost predictable, rhythm. This gives you the ability to create more and build momentum.
Even in medical advancement, a sense of urgency has proven to be beneficial. In a study on clinical trials, it was seen that the shorter the deadline, the more likely they were to create a testing environment that fostered positive results.
In the examples above, it’s clear no one was in their comfort zone when they tapped into the power of urgency. They weren’t sitting at home on their favorite recliner because everything was right with the world.
That’s why so many of the most successful people in the world have crazy stories of where they came from and what they did.
You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
They were forced to perform or create. For you to tap into urgency and accomplish more with less, you’ve got to step away from your comfort zone.
A sense of urgency doesn’t only apply to creative pursuits like art, music, writing, and business. It applies to all aspects of your life.
Urgency is your friend and ally. It makes you put in an extra bit of effort when you’d rather watch the latest original series on Netflix 2I watched stranger things in one sitting so I know the feeling. Here are a few ways to foster it naturally.
This is a two-step process. Most of the world creates goals without a hard date. They look like this.
“I want to lose 10 pounds this year.”
They should look like this.
“I want to lose 10 pounds by December 1, 2016”
The second one is a tangible goal AND has a hard date for completion. That’s the first step in creating a sense of urgency. But what if you made this goal in January? There’s a slim chance you’re going to feel a sense of urgency.
How about we make this a challenging goal. Assuming it’s January, let’s make the goal:
“I want to lose 10 pounds by February 15, 2016.”
This goal is decent, but more importantly, it’s urgent. February is right around the corner and puts the challenge in perspective. You’ll need to start taking action immediately to accomplish your goal.
Accountability partners are amazing. I have them for my personal and professional life and they’ve made me epic3 I’ve always been pretty epic but my accountability partners have taken me to the next level. The benefits spill over into many aspects of your life.
Include your partner in your plans and ask them to check on your progress every week or twice a week. When you know someone is going to expect a positive progress report, you’ll be motivated to get something tangible done.
Choosing the right accountability partner is a challenge in itself. If you choose someone who doesn’t believe in what you’re doing then it won’t be effective. If you choose someone too close to you then they may not be able to tell you the hard truths.
Here are a few quick tips to choose the right partner:
This is on you. Awareness of yourself, your goals, and your surroundings will go a long way towards urgency in your life. Know when you’re dropping the ball and how to pick it back up. There are no short cuts to this one 4 I set random reminders on my phone that ask me “What are you doing right now.” They usually refocus me on what I’m supposed to doing .
Widen your perspective to encompass not only yourself but the factors that can affect your goals. That way, instead of being reactive, you’ll be proactive in heading off anything that’ll stop you from moving forward with a sense of urgency.
Urgency is powerful. Urgency is elusive.
To unleash a sense of urgency in creation is to work harder, faster, and more efficiently. Not only does it increase your output, it increases the quality of your output. There are a few simple ways to create a sense of urgency in your life and work.
Set hard deadlines that will challenge you.
Find and keep an accountability partner.
Always look internally and externally for signs of complacency.
Let me know how you’re developing a sense of urgency to create something epic.