Ryan Leatherbury

Business. Tech. Life


Do More by Creating a Sense of Urgency

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Sometimes the more options you think you have, the more complacent you become with the status quo. It’s easier to kick the can down the road to tomorrow than make a tough decision today.

But what if you mentally backed yourself into a corner to force decisive, quick action and decision?

33StratagiesWarRobert Greene describes the Death-ground strategy in his 33 Strategies of War. A death ground is place of no retreat where you are backed up against a mountain, river or other terrain where there is no escape.

There have been a number of times in history where a military commander  has burned his ships to create a point of no return, leaving no choice but to fight. When Julian the Apostate, Emperor of Rome invaded Persia, he had his men torch his barges after they crossed the Tigris River. Centuries later, outnumbered and divided on the shores of Mexico, Hernan Cortez sank his ships making sure there was no retreat to Cuba.

Outside of military strategy, giving yourself no way out is a great way to make sure you get things done. What if you had to make a major decision today without having enough information to make it?

Remember Parkinson’s Law.

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. If you have 2 weeks to do a project, it usually takes the full 2 weeks.

But what happens if you give yourself 2 days? Or 2 hours?

640px-Mission_Control_Celebrates_-_GPN-2000-001313When the engineers on the near disastrous Apollo 13 mission were told to either come up with a solution or the crew would die, they did the impossible to bring home the crew. They had no choice.

In his book, Greene gives a few tactics for creating this sense of urgency:

Stake everything on a single throw. Don’t spread yourself too thin trying too many things at one time. Instead, focus on one major challenge at a time.

Act before you are ready. It is easy to fall into the trap of waiting too long to act when you don’t face outside pressure. When you make a move earlier and force the issue, you’ll build up your creativity and ability to think and act quickly.

Take on new territory. Leaving comfortable situations and stale relationships can result in a renewed burst of energy that make new ventures work. You’ll be amazed at what you can do when you have no other choice than to make it work.

Set a deadline. Set a death ground. What will you accomplish?


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Ryan Leatherbury • March 22, 2015

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      Thanks for that Preeminence – glad you liked the write-up.

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