I feel like one of the most important ways we add value to our clients is to be calm and clear-headed, even at times when they may not be.  We’ve spent a lot of time during our “Tuesday Team Lunch” talking about how to identify and address what is URGENT, what is IMPORTANT, and what merely seems urgent, but is not.

I also have two teenaged kids in my household.  Well, as I write this one of them is still months away from officially being a teenager, but he’s already emotionally there.  😉

That’s why this blog post from my good friend Jill Farmer really hit home on both a professional and a personal level, enough that I wanted to share it with you. (You can find the original post here: http://www.jillfarmercoaching.com/Blog.html?entry=urgent-information .)  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

J.P. Griffard & Associates, LPL Financial, and Jill Farmer are not affiliated.


My executive coaching client Rick was at the end of his rope.

The constant barrage of e-mails pouring into his inbox  titled “Important!!!”, “Need this ASAP!!”, and the old standby “URGENT!!” created a never-ending source of irritation and angst for Rick. 

He started and ended his day with the thought “I’m NEVER going to get caught up.”

The root of this desolate sense of being? False urgency

Rick and his colleagues were using it to inadvertently sabotage each other. Panic is contagious (Google emotional contagion if you don’t believe me). Someone else’s panic can become ours even when we’re not really threatened. It can spread faster than an infection.

Even though it feels horrible, we can get addicted to that panicked state of mind. Our brains trick us into thinking it’s the only way we can get stuff done.

Here’s the real story. When we’re panicked, we’re in fight or flight mode. Fight or flight (as you’ve heard me say about 1 zillion times) is a terrible place to be focused, efficient, productive, innovative, kind or smart. It’s nearly impossible to prioritize properly when we are in that state of mind. 

It’s a little like our panic prone brains are playing the role of a little old lady in an apartment building who pulls the fire alarm every time one of her neighbors lights a candle. Everyone in the building gets nervous and panicky when they hear the fire alarm because they don’t really know whether it’s the real thing. Over time, the constant false alarms cause everyone to be weary, skittish, and unfocused.

What’s the cure for all of this false panic spreading around? 

Cultivate patience.
Next time someone comes at you with a URGENT matter:

1) Stop. Let yourself feel any panic or anxiety you notice. If you can sit with the discomfort for just a little while, it will move through you, instead of staying stuck in you.

2) Take three deep breaths (this calms your nervous system).

3) Ask yourself “Does this truly equal an emergency?”

If the answer is YES, prioritize it and take care of it. 

If not, take another deep breath and tell the person at your desk, in your inbox, or at the foot of your bed that you see they’re nervous or worried. Then give them a time frame in which you can reasonably respond. Or, better yet, make a suggestion for when they can take care of it themselves.

You can’t control other people’s panic.
Start with yourself.
Am I emitting a panicky energy that’s going to infect the person I’m reaching out to?
Be onto yourself when you’re being like an impatient little kid. It will make your life saner, more productive, and more meaningful.

Getting calm, clear and connected. That’s what’s really important, my friend.