by John P. Kotter
Success easily produces complacency. In business or in life, our biggest detractor to acting with urgency is reminiscing about past successes. Complacency whispers, “Nothing is wrong. Everything is great!” In John P. Kotter’s book, A Sense of Urgency, he believes a true sense of urgency focuses on the critical issues and is driven to win now! Here are some practical ways to apply his principles:

1) Behave with Urgency Every Day. Learn to purge and delegate: eliminate activity that no longer adds high value. Next, move with speed: respond fast, move now. Thirdly, speak with passion: attitudes, feelings and actions are contagious. Try creating a strategy aimed at the hearts and minds of others. Past success tells us nothing about the future. Be “urgently patient”: act each day with a sense of urgency, but have a realistic view of time.

2) Find Opportunities in Crisis. Crisis isn’t always bad, it may actually be required to succeed under certain conditions. The next time you encounter a dilemma, try using the crisis to develop the urgency needed to create a better organization. Create a carefully considered strategy, then get buy-in from others. Create goals that will “stretch” others and seek to find more powerful partners. Overall, be proactive in assessing how people will react to change then do your best to turn disaster into triumph.

3) The Future Begins Today. Try something new. If an action doesn’t help, abandon it. If it works well, consider doing it more. Ask, “Is the way we do things around here a barrier to success?” Acting urgently is the tactic that creates results quickly. Action is the true test. You need to activate alertness, movement and leadership NOW!

Acting with a sense of urgency decreases complacency in your organization. It takes discipline to see the external world clearly. Don’t be a “victim” of “what’s worked in the past, will work in the future.” Start today by identifying new opportunities, avoiding hazards and finding ways to win!

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