Why a Strong Sense of Urgency Shakes Complacency and Fights Mediocrity

A high sense of urgency is one of the common traits of successful people. When in place, it has a terrific impact on performance.

Not surprisingly, company executives with a high sense of urgency lead and drive their organizations to better results. They think and work relentlessly until their vision and their goals are achieved. They just don’t accept the status quo. They hate and fight complacency. Their sense of urgency is an integral part of who they are.

Now that we’re approaching another year, I wonder if you are driven with that level of urgency to have an extraordinary and remarkable 2020, for yourself and your organization.

In this article, I explore some warning signs that lead to high complacency that is the prelude of mediocrity.

Blurred Vision

In simple terms, a vision is an appealing picture of the future. It’s where you want to be, as individuals as well as organizations. It sounds easy to develop one, but it’s not.

How many times we have seen fluffy or very generic visions in organizations? Most of the time, these visions are neither inspiring nor ambitious. If that is the case, how can a vision create a sense of urgency for the leaders and the managers? It just can’t.

Likewise, if you didn’t develop a strong vision for yourself, there is a high chance you won’t be driven by a sense of urgency. How would it affect your results?

There have been many descriptions of a great vision. There are four characteristics that make a vision strong enough to drive urgency:

  • Clear – It provides a clear picture of what the future looks like
  • Appealing – It provides enough desire and inspiration to us and people around us
  • Ambitious – It’s feasible but also ambitious enough to stretch ourselves to the limit
  • Focused – It gives us focus to provide guidance on decisions to make

Why Matters

Simon Sinek (“Start with Why”) said: “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.” That’s it. The mission is why you do what you do.

It might sound irrelevant for people around you, but it’s not. Actually, this is a dangerous assumption. A great mission statement defines what you do for your customers, employees, society, community, and finally, for you.

In a worst-case scenario, a strong mission builds customer intimacy. In a best-case scenario, it builds raving fans, who want to be part of your journey. They embrace the cause.

A great mission statement (regardless is your individual or company’s mission) sounds like a strategy. A terrible mission statement is, on the other hand, generic and fluffy. Often useless.

Finally, I don’t believe a mission should be used as a marketing tool. If you are driven by a strong purpose, your customers will know it, as you will act, communicate and deliver consistently to your mission. All pieces will come together.

Settling for Mediocrity

I declared war to mediocrity, and I have to admit I’m not happy when I see people settle for mediocrity. Either in their lives or in their careers. It’s like to surrender.

Why? Some people are afraid to take action and to step outside of their comfort zone. For somebody, mediocrity is still better than failure. This leads to giving up.

In business, settling for mediocrity is like accepting just good-enough or average results and performance. In this situation, people use to blame external forces (the market is tight, customers are bad, too many competitors, you name it) rather than taking full responsibility for the results.

After a while, mediocrity becomes the norm. At that stage, people create an unconscious and dangerous vicious cycle where complacency takes place and shifts the mindset.

On the other hand, fighting mediocrity keeps people on the alert. They strive to get better and build better results. They don’t settle. To escape mediocrity, you have to be committed to doing what is necessary instead of what is easy.

Choosing Status Quo over Disruption

As I mentioned in my previous article, when status gets in the way, troubles begin for leaders. High status brings comfort, complacency, and often poor results.

In this situation, it’s common to find executives that don’t want to challenge the status quo. They prefer harmony and consensus to maintain their popularity and protect their status. Yes Men are often in place. Other symptoms include disengaged employees, lack of high-performing culture, average products, poor customer service.

No one challenges the status quo. Managers and the workforce become complacent too. Easy to hear sentences like: “We have always done it this way” in the workplace.

Conflict is necessary to hear all ideas and opinions. Only leaders with a sense of urgency look for healthy conflict in their organizations. They are not interested to please everyone. Not surprisingly, they achieve better results by disrupting the status quo.

Pushing up the sense of urgency is instrumental for success and to get things done. It’s uncomfortable and tough but necessary to achieve extraordinary results. Successful people and organizations have learned this. It’s your turn.

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