The Urgent is the Enemy, Part 2

November 12, 2012 — Leave A Comment

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” ~ Jim Rohn

Last week, I wrote about how often faith leaders fall under the spell of the Urgent, and the devastating effects that seduction can have on their work and families, and even their health. So, what do you do if that describes you? How do you get out from under the thumb of the Urgent, and return to a life intentionally built around That Which Matters Most?

This week I want to give you 5 clear, actionable steps you can take that will restore authentic intimacy with God, yourself and those you love, and revolutionize (no kidding!) the way you engage with leadership. These steps are simple, but don’t mistake that to mean they are easy. They’re not. Shifting the way you do life and leadership is a radical act, and will require both courage and tenacity. But that’s exactly what authentic faith looks like when it’s lived out, doesn’t it? Courage and tenacity.

OK, here we go. The steps, in order:

1. Establish a personal Rule of Life. What are the handful of personal practices and behaviors that, if you did them regularly, would genuinely fill you up, give you strength, and deepen your connection with God? For example, getting a consistent 8 hours of sleep, working out or running or playing a team sport 2 or more times a week, spending an hour each day in quiet reflection and prayer, taking a full day of solitude with God each month, reading a few hours each week…and so on. The thing is to figure out what those core practices are for you, pull them together into a single manifesto (or Rule of Life) and put them in your schedule as nonnegotiables each week. This means putting them in first, before you schedule other things. (See, I told you it would take courage and tenacity. But you can do it! Never underestimate the power of a sincere, authentic decision.)

2. Redesign your life and work around your values. Personal values, in a coaching sense, aren’t about morals, or right vs. wrong. Rather, they name for us the kind of environment we need to create around ourselves that lets us thrive, and the ways of engaging life, work and relationships that make us feel the most empowered and alive. Building your life around your values not only inoculates you against the temptation of the Urgent, it also empowers you to cultivate patterns of work and life that maximize your impact and effectiveness as a leader. If you don’t know what your values are, drop me a line, and we’ll set up a time to talk. I do a”Design Discovery” Values assessment (read more about it here) that will identity your top 5-8 core values in a one-time, 2 hour coaching session.

3. Get clear about what trumps what. Even with a keen eye on your values and a Rule of Life in place, the demands of leadership and life can still sometimes squeeze out things that matter and push us toward a more reactive “always putting out fires”-style of living. When the pressure’s on, then, it’s important to know what trumps what. By that I mean, which of your responsibilities or regular practices take priority over others? When you don’t have time to do all the Things That Matter, how do you decide which ones to drop and which ones to do? The answer is a to create a “What Trumps What?” list ~ a simple priority list that identifies ahead of time what you will drop and what you will do when the pressure is on, so you don’t have to make those decisions in the heat of the moment (when the Urgent is screaming so loudly it’s hard to think about anything else). I have a simple handout that explains how to set up a “What Trumps What?” list for yourself. If you’d like to get a copy, just drop me a line, and I’d be happy to email one to you.

4. Create a personal support team. You can click the link for the full explanation on why this is so important, so I won’t go into it at length here. But let me just bottom line it for you. If you attempt to make this shift on your own, without the intentional support of others who know you and care about you, you will fail. God designed us for community, and without that active and present support in our lives, we simply cannot become the people (or leaders) God intended us to be.

5. Learn how to fight. It’s easy to forget that we have an enemy at all, much less think about the fact that he is a brilliant strategist, that he knows your weakness (and fears your strength), that he never sleeps, and that he doesn’t fight fair. If he can trap you under the weight of the Urgent, then he will have effectively cut you off from your strength and made you impotent to have any lasting impact on That Which Matters Most. To break free of his strategies, you must recognize them as such, and learn how to fight. One of the most practical and effective resources I’ve ever come across on this subject is “The Hope of Prayer” ~ a CD training series by John Eldredge. You can buy a copy online here.

If you want a coach to partner with you in taking any one of these steps (or all of them), drop me a line. I’d love to help.

Michael Warden

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