I’m faced with an enemy that you know. I’m no longer afraid of this enemy. I’m just observing him. Watching. Learning. Taking in his appearance. Trying to figure him out.
I will defeat him.
He shows up less often than he used to, but more often than he should. Sometimes the enemy is coming at me from out of nowhere. Other times, I see that I’ve empowered him. He wouldn’t exist without the choices I’ve made to get him to where he is.
This isn’t just my struggle. You face this adversary too. We all do.
He appears in our sleep, robbing us from rest. He enters our thoughts, distracting us from the moment. He occupies our time, stealing precious moments. He’s a thief. Sometimes a liar. Sometimes he’s truth, which makes detecting the lies that much harder.
Urgent is his name.
Urgent is the enemy of excellence.
But perfection is the enemy of progress.
Herein lies the rub: Acting, reacting, producing, hustling. Getting shit done. Balancing the urgent with the patience and calm mind needed to do the work well. To do the work right. And to do the right work.
Example: My writing.
I am a writer. The fact that my readers are too far and few between at this stage to enable me to make a living from it, doesn’t change the fact that I’m a writer.
I’m also 42 and the years are starting to zoom past me at ever accelerating speeds. Combine that with an ever increasing need for financial diversification. There is a certain sense of urgency.
I’ve figured out that one of the ways to cut through the noise of our online deluge of content is to make a lot of noise. The term I hear is, “Content is king”. Those with the most posts win.
This seems to be true. With every new post, I gain followers. It stands to reason that if I post every day I’ll gain followers faster. And more followers is more opportunity to provide value to more people and create for me the potential of a writing income.
But at what cost? Where’s the balance between writing to the best of my current abilities with a focus on improving value, and putting out frequent enough content to keep an audience engaged and growing?
This is where excellence has to ride. On a thin line between urgency and perfection.
Succumb to the urgency of building an audience: end up putting out piles of work I’m not proud of, and an audience that isn’t in touch with where I’m trying to go.
Meanwhile, the perfect article will never be written. Dead stop.
Then Urgent gets even more insidious. My life outside of writing decides to come out of nowhere with an uppercut to the chin.
Look at me!
Urgent action needed over here!
Ok. That’s fine. I recognize you from before. And because I now recognize you for what you are, a short-term distraction from long-term progress, I know not to take you too seriously.
I might still lose sleep. Progress might be slower. I’m tired but not discouraged. I see right through you.
I’ve slept three hours in the last 48. I’ve had my ego ripped from my body, stomped into the mud, and set back inside. I’ve seen recent progress canceled out like someone hit the delete button on months of hard work.
I worked out today.
I meditated today.
I read and learned today.
And I wrote this article.
Dear Urgent: Go Fuck yourself. I’m doing important things today.