Fire Department Urgency

A few hours after I posted this blog, 19 firefighters tragically lost their lives in Arizona, giving everything they had to save ours.  Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, and courageous firefighters everywhere.

The alarm rings at the fire station, and the brave men and women respond with instinctive urgency.  In a tightly choreographed dance, they gear up, slide down the fire poles, and are on their way to save property and lives in Olympic speed.  There is no hesitation, no 11-part study, and no committee meetings.  Just a burning sense of purpose to conquer the mission.

In urgent situations, speed is everything.  Distractions give way to the importance of the task at hand, and those with an urgent calling feel compelled to get the job done.  An ambulance driver would never stop for a burger on the way to an accident.  A star athlete wouldn’t take a call to chat with his grandmother in the middle of an important game.  A startup leader couldn’t live with herself if she took a 10-day vacation leading up to her big product launch.

We know that urgency saves lives and wins championships.  Why, then, do we allow apathy and sluggishness to slow so many of us down?

The same thing happens in most businesses.  Fire-in-the-belly urgency gives way to stifling procedures and scaredy-cat bureaucrats.  The problem is that we can no longer afford the luxury of being laid back.  Sipping lemonade and leisurely skating through the workday is robbing you and your company, no different than stealing merchandise from the back room.  Worse, as your competitors wake up and begin to charge ahead with force, you run the imminent risk of getting plowed over.

We are living in a time where the rate of change is like none other in history.  Today, the slow lane is reserved for those on the fast path to obsolescence.   In order to build healthy careers, companies, and communities, we need to leap into action with the ferocity of a caged animal.

Think when you have real urgency in your own life:  When you are late for your kid’s baseball game, when you have an assignment due in two hours but still have four hours of work to do; when you haven’t eaten all day and you’re racing home to dinner.  In these situations, you have a heightened level of urgency, focus, and purpose.  To elevate the results in other areas of your life, unleash that same intensity and you’ll drive outcomes to new heights.

Firefighters don’t skip – they race to the scene in order to save the day.  Now is the time for you to pursue your goals with that same level of forceful urgency.  If you’re on an important mission (and we all should be), there’s no time to dilly-dally.  A hard sprint toward your dreams is mandatory if your want to seize them.  And if you’re facing real problems, attack them immediately before a two-alarm problem becomes a five-alarm one.

No time to be lethargic.  Your station bell is ringing.  Gear up fast and race toward your full potential.