A couple of years ago, I stopped into a sub-shop to get some lunch. I went through the line, ordered my sandwich, and was about to pay when suddenly one of the employees behind the counter moaned, lunged forward quickly, hit his head on the counter, fell to the floor, and started shaking uncontrollably. He was clearly having a seizure. A co-worker immediately went towards him, and I rushed around the counter to provide support. The co-worker went to stabilize his head, told someone to call 911, and I took the feet position. Thank goodness we were able to keep him from harming himself and calm him down until medical personnel arrived. It was a scary moment that needed an immediate response.
This morning I heard this statement in a podcast. “Run towards the need.” This phrase caused me to think about my own world and what I am running towards each day. A need is a circumstance that requires some course of action. My experience with the person having the seizure was a response to an immediate and urgent need. I simply reacted both because of my proximity to the person and a need for help. This urgent, in-my-face need sparked necessary action. Yet, if I think deeper about the needs I am running towards each day, I must consider the urgent versus the strategic needs.
The urgent need is a situation that requires immediate action. An employee quits without notice, an order goes out wrong, or a computer system goes down. We use cliches like, “fire drill” or “put out the fire” to describe these situations.
Sometimes, beneath the surface of an urgent need is a strategic need. Multiple occurrences of a situation are an indicator of a strategic need. Several employees quit, numerous orders are incorrect, or the computer system fails on a regular basis. A strategic need is a situation that requires deeper analysis, broader input, and innovative solutions.
Your Running Focus
As you consider how you spend your time, are you running after the urgent or the strategic? I would suggest that if you are mostly running after urgent needs, there is an opportunity to reconsider what you are running towards and begin to pursue the strategic needs.
- What strategic needs do you need to run after?
- Why is this need important to solve?
- What is your plan to do this?