Two of the essential characteristics
which mark the lives of successful and happy people would seem
at first glance to be polar opposites. They are patience and a
compelling sense of urgency.
That urgency can be our
number one tool to prevent the tremendous waste of life,
energy and progress that results from inertia. Sir Isaac Newton was correct
in stating that a body at rest will remain at rest. His
first law of motion defines inertia.
Sadly however, it also
defines much of what we see going on in society in which
opportunities, money and abilities are squandered as people
watch four hours a day of television on average, walk by
opportunities to explore and innovate, and retreat behind
bunkers composed of the walls of gated communities or huge
The HR Doctor however,
only quoted the first part of Newtons First Law. It has a second, equally important part.
A body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an
A compelling sense of
urgency can be that strong outside force to push us off the
couch and turn us into mentors of others, good neighbors,
explorers of new hobbies, visitors to other cultures and
public administrators willing to confront serious problems
constructively in a constant search for innovative
These push factors may disrupt the
security of our comfort zones. They may not be popular with
various colleagues or the media, but they may represent policy
visions which solve problems for many people for many years to
Take away a sense of urgency, and a
major incentive is also lost to step out and make good things
happen. It may be easier, some may think, to stay comfortably
wrapped in a down comforter on a cold day, but if that
approach is taken in the other areas of life, the comfort of
the moment gives way to boredom and missed opportunities which
can never be recaptured.
One of the hardest things for Americans
to come to grips with is fighting off the urges of instant
gratification. Much of that television watching or television
time-wasting described above includes commercials calling on
us to call in the next 15 minutes.
Not a day goes by when the HR Doctor
doesnt receive credit card offers along with other offers to
take advantage of this or that debt reduction service to
improve my credit score.
Moving through life at
warp speed often means that we miss the chance to take an
amazing photograph of a bird in flight or a bird building a
nest. It means not stopping in the midst of a beautiful forest
to watch how the light changes dramatically in just a few
minutes. It means not spending time with our family members or
colleagues at work to learn more about them in order to help
them realize their dreams.
It means spending a paltry
four minutes a day on average as a parent in private,
uninterrupted conversation with a child. Not now, do not disturb,
Im too busy, are all the mantras of individuals, and, in
fact, of a country which learns to appreciate the short-term
view at the expense of a long-term vision.
Elected officials seem to
focus on the next commission meeting or the end of the next
term in office rather than focusing on the next generation. We
look for quick Band-Aids which often result not in solutions,
but in squandering money, time and lives.
Having a long-range vision in life is
not easy in our culture but it is most rewarding. How ironic
that not until we get older and our eyes get worse are we
better able to see a lot of what we have missed.
If only we could create through our
science and technology a new form of optometry the ability
to correct our vision so that we can make better policy and a
The recipe for being able to do this
mixes patience with courage and a compelling sense of urgency
to act for the long-term good rather than for the short-term
15 minutes of fame.
All the best,
The HR Doctor www.hrdr.net