If I were a ship at sea, Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking In Your Organization by Daniel Forrester would be a shot across my bow. I am, by design, an activist. I would rather be doing something than only talking and thinking about doing something. And that is my problem. As my natural inclination towards action meets a 24/7-connected world because of technology and e-mail, I’m in danger of being consumed by the tyranny of the urgent.
We all know the tyranny of the urgent. It’s the e-mail that has to be responded to immediately and which then probably results in 10 more e-mails that must be responded to immediately. It’s the text message that rings during family time that must be answered. Even when something truly isn’t a ‘tyranny of the urgent’ (Facebook anyone?) out of a desire to feel important I can artificially elevate it to the level of urgent. I thrive off the tyranny. If an admittance is the first sign of recovery then maybe there is some hope for me.
In Forrester’s book he relays story after story of what happens when we stop to reflect and consider. Among other things, fresh ideas and insights come. Better decisions are made. Feet aren’t always inserted into mouths (okay, he didn’t say that – but that’s certainly my experience). The world doesn’t fall apart from our lack of attention to it.
To be honest, I’m much better at stopping and reflecting at this present point in my life because of the George Fox Program. Because of GF, I’ve grown to appreciate (in theory at least) the value of stopping and reflecting. Though I value it, I have room for improvement with regards to incorporating it into my life. Here are three things I need to consider implementing to ensure that the tyranny of the urgent isn’t the theme and master of my life.
Sabbath – I like to think I’m God and that the world can’t live without me. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because Sunday is a workday for me, I need to find a time where I put my I-phone in ‘nighttime mode’ and step away. In ‘nighttime mode’, only calls or texts from those on my favorites list are allowed to come through. All other voicemails or texts just show up where they normally would, without any ringing notification. This way in an emergency my family or my boss can always get a hold of me but everyone else can’t. It carves out time for me to reflect and think without being worried of what I’ missing.
E-mail – I like to respond to e-mails quickly, and there are times that I really need to keep an eye on my e-mail so that I can. But the truth is, those times aren’t nearly as numerous as I act like they are. The only way for me to really control the e-mail monster is to turn it off, which I don’t like to do. This is what CEO of PBD encouraged his employees to do in hopes they would connect face-to-face. I’m going to try to do this one-day a week for the employees of the church. Instead of just sending e-mail, I’m going to stop in, say hi and ask or respond to a question.
Consistent Reflection Time: Thursdays from 1 to 3pm, I’m going to hardwire reflection time into my schedule so I can get ahead of issues, think creatively and hopefully avoid some mistakes that I would otherwise make.
For those of you who have a hardwired reflection time in your schedules, what do you ‘do’ during those hours? How long is it? Is there a consistent process you undergo? Do you get out of the office? Do you turn off your cell phones? I’d love some guidance!