Last week, a conversation during a consulting engagement involved the expressed need to “create a sense of urgency” for implementing change.  The nature of urgency is something that I have thought a lot about over the years and I shared my perspective with my clients.

As I do with virtually every coaching or consulting situation, I had already shared the Problem and Outcome orientations, which are referred to as the Victim Orientation and Creator Orientation in The Power of TED*.

The Problem/Victim mindset is a problem-focused; anxiety-based and reactive way of being.  Alternatively, the Outcome/Creator Orientation is outcome-focused; passion-motivated and creative.

Years ago, while conducting a leadership development program, a conversation ensued about the place of urgency in the orientations.  My initial response was to connect urgency to anxiety, since there is very often a sense of urgency to react to the problems that elicit that emotional response.  Someone in the group then asked whether urgency could also exist in the Outcome Orientation.

That question served as a Challenger to my assumption that urgency and anxiety were synonymous.

Over several months, I mulled over that question from time-to-time.  Then one day it occurred to me that it might be wise to actually look up the word “urgency” is the dictionary.  The resolution to my dilemma was found in the root word of “urgency,” which is the word “urge,” as in the urge to create!

The insight for me was that urgency can be either anxiety or passion based.

In sharing that perspective with my clients, I asked which quality of urgency they wanted to foster.  Anxiety-based urgency leads to reactivity, but rarely – if ever – results in sustainable change.  The sense of urgency to create an envisioned outcome about which we care passionately has a much higher probability of leading to sustainable change and manifested outcomes.

Of course, they chose passion…

When you experience urgency, where is it usually rooted: in anxiety or passion?

 

To the Creator in you!