I first came across this term among writers on Christian spirituality. One author advised that a key way to grow as a Christian is to "ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."
For most of us, our first reaction to this is that it is wholly unrealistic.This has more to do with the lifestyle of a monk than someone in business. Hurry is a chronic undertone of our stress-filled lives, something we are often unaware of until we take a vacation, perhaps, or worse, when we have a break-down. Hurry is, sadly, normal.
Yet, I'm not so sure this advice is irrelevant. In fact, I'm beginning to think that it is even more important as an exercise of self management for those of us 'in the thick of it.'
I wrote a while back about the illustration in The Lord of the Rings of what I call the Strategic Moment. Last week I was giving my presentation on project communications to the 4th Congress of the Best Practice User Group in Bratislava, and when I moved on to talk about 'Hurry Sickness' the engagement in the room was palpable. I had touched a nerve.
One Slovak delegate said to me afterwards, "Cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people." How true.
It is clear from research that the amount of hurry people feel they are in displaces the time they would give in extending themselves in relationships. It shifts us to be less people-oriented and much more task focused. This is extremely dangerous and encourages short-term thinking. Eroded relationships with others can come back and bite us after a while. It is hurrying through fog at speed focus on the next few years; we are an accident waiting to happen.
Busyness is a great enemy of relationships. We become preoccupied with making a living, doing our work, paying bills, and accomplishing goals as if these tasks are the point of life. They are not. The point of life is learning to love – God and people. Life minus love equals zero.
--Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life
It is also clear to me that several of my client organisations have chronic hurriedness; so much so that it has become part of the culture. What I observe is way beyond professional briskness and efficiency and shifted into long-term destructive work patterns. These behaviours are excused as 'just the way we do things around here'. For example, it becomes a peer group pressure to work late into the evenings. As a consequence, marriages suffer and break up; children become estranged. But the hurried ones are in so much of a hurry they either don't notice or promise, 'One day I'll spend "quality time" with my partner and kids.'
'One day' is now, my friend. Grasp it before it is too late.
The problem is not just about personal health and well being; ironically it affects the performance of projects in these businesses as well. As I demonstrated to the Congress, higher performers attend to relationships significantly more and as a consequence remove impediments and get results.
In the urgency of the moment this is all deeply counter-intuitive, but we must challenge work patterns that not only unproductive, but are ruining our lives as well.