Not Everything is Urgent

'What is urgent is seldom important and what is important is seldom urgent.' - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Not Everything is Urgent

I know, I know... this is usually in your inbox for your early morning Saturday read to enjoy with your coffee, but it was just of those weeks where travel, meetings, and life just played havoc with my typical day-to-day. Sleep was a mess. I didn't write as much as I would have liked to. I didn't play as much as I needed to. But consistency is key, so here's your weekly dose of .. something.

Side note: my coffee machine was acting up this morning - so it's been a really wonky week. Cut me some slack. Or buy me a coffee. :)

It's ironic though, that I wanted to talk about a tweet I stumbled across this earlier in the week:

(Origin is Bing Chen).

I just loved this. Yes - I have changed my 'out of office' to read similarly. But, for now, repeat after me:

If this is urgent, take a deep breath because few things really are.

It's kind fun to step back and look around at everything and think about in the grand scheme of things and ask how often is something really urgent? The term has become overused, misused, and perhaps even abused. Or maybe it's just how we humans are wired into thinking that every. little. thing. is urgent.

I read somewhere that you shouldn't consider something urgent 'unless it involves birth, bleeding, obstruction of breath or death.' Now, I'm not saying you should be reckless and not have priorities, but you should have clarity on what is essential and if something needs attention.

We really should save urgent for things that are genuine life-affecting.

For example, urgent is: I have chest pain, I should get to the hospital.

On the flip side, when it comes to the day-to-day job, normal things that happen to us, often things drop into the important category. They're just not urgent.

John Allspaw had a great example of that something most technology folks confuse between whats’s urgent and important: the dreaded outage call.

And he's right. I’m not saying that an outage isn't critical, but I’ve seen this story play out - exec jumps on a call to 'make sure that the team feels the urgency' (fyi: it never ends well). Honestly, it's more important to trust that the people on the call are doing the best they can. Having some exec sitting there offering 'suggestions' isn't make a server reboot any faster. Employees are working hard and are under pressure. The last thing they need is a senior leader breathing over them asking them questions; that’s how more mistakes happen. (The time to have conversations is in postmortems, but I'll save that for another entry).

Anyways - just something to think about the next time you feel that something is urgent. Save it for something that really is.

If you enjoy these posts, you can buy me a coffee ☕️, or if you'd rather keep up with my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter or keep reading my posts on this blog.

Forward Thinking

I've been a long-time fan of Peter McKinnon's photography, YouTube channel and of course, Pete's Pirate Life.

This week I watched his latest videos, and in "Sharing something personal" (at about the 5:20 mark), he talked about 'sending the elevator down'. It wasn't about a way to put yourself on a pedestal but more of the responsibility to help lift friends and peers to give them new ideas or exposure to opportunities when you achieve levels of success.

The quote originally comes from Edith Piaf:

If you've done well, it's your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down.

And I just thought it was a great way to think about sharing all that you've learned with those just starting.

Thoughts of the week


Latest obsession

My playdate is finally here. It arrived late yesterday and I haven't had a minute to even take it out of the box, but I'm really looking forward to messing around with this small gizmo. A review is coming soon.

Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:

  • "Ideas Choose Us" was the kick-in-the-pants motivation I needed this week. 'The next time an idea visits you... Respect it. Honor it. Be honest about your intentions' - More
  • I cannot wait for the new Monkey Island game. "When I Made Another Monkey Island" seems to echo some of the same vibes in 'Ideas Choose Us' and explores some of the decisions on the visual style and sound in the upcoming sequel - More
  • In an excerpt from Tony Fadell's new book, "These are the storytelling lessons I learned from Steve Jobs" has some great takeaways about making things. 'the longer you work on something, the more the what takes over—the whybecomes so obvious, a feeling in your gut, a part of everything you do, that you don't even need to express it anymore. You forget how much it matters.'. Powerful read - More
  • "Americans bring 'souvenir' artillery shell to Israel airport" has been spot on for the last few years. No surprise here. - More
  • 'Every slushie is different. Every slushie is the same.' is the theme for 'No One Knows What a Slushie Is,".. and you know what? The article is right - learn all about its origin. - More
  • Do you have a "Bucket List"? It feels like I need to sit down and pound one out - a list of things I still want to achieve in this life. Here's some inspiration for you to start - More
  • "50 First Levers (How to start building Leverage)" is an excellent look at some examples of tools and processes that allow you to 'Build and extend levers to get more done with less effort' - More
  • Along with the bucket list, "Things you're allowed to do" is 'a list of things you're allowed to do that you thought you couldn't, or didn't even know you could.' Excellent food for thought in this one - More
  • "The Shitposting Edition" explores the art of 'posting that is completely detached from one's real thoughts and beliefs, in the interest of being amusing' and the difference between posting *. - More
  • It's a super interesting read on the placebo effect and how it can be 'often more powerful than a lot of medicine.' Read "This Is How To Have A Long Awesome Life" - More
  • I've found that HRV (Heart Rate Variability - the way the time between heartbeats changes) was one of the more exciting things to understand to get a better grip of what's going on in your entire 'ecosystem' - sleep, stress, etc. It tracks how healthy your heart is. Read more about "Tracking Your Heart Rate Variability with Apple Watch" - More


Closing out this week with the Finnish band Steve'n'Seagulls playing AC/DC's Thunderstruck.

With spoons, banjos, and an acordian. You're welcome.

Be well. ✌🏻