Hurry Up & Wait: Mastering the Art of Urgent Patience

by | Sep 27, 2019 | Sales Motiviation

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who coached the UCLA Bruins to 10 national championships, would tell his players, “Be quick but don’t hurry.”

How on Earth is that possible? Can you really be quick while not hurrying?

Yes. Not only can you do it, you should do it.

In his 2009 Forbes article, “Urgency and Patience,” Rich Karlgaard quotes the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, who once wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

“Urgency” and “patience” are two such opposed ideas that actually go together. In order to succeed in an increasingly complex world, professionals need to master the art of “urgent patience.”

But what does “urgent patience” mean from a sales professional’s point of view?

I use the term “urgent patience” to describe a necessary trait successful prospectors must possess. You need a sense urgency to keep pushing, but you have to be patient enough that you can wait for your prospecting process and the combined effect of all your prospecting messages to finally compel the prospect to meet with you. Meanwhile, you need the internal fortitude to keep going even though there’s a part of you that’s worried about being a pest.

“First things first!” That’s what my wife and I tell our kids when they want do something other than their homework. It’s what I tell myself when I start to do meaningless administrative work instead of the creative work that actually makes me money. In order to find new business, you need to prioritize your time. Again, it’s “urgent patience.”

I try to start my day doing the one thing I dread right away, the very first thing. This assures a couple of things. One, I get it out of the way, and two, I don’t let other items and other people’s agendas control my day.

A sales professional who wants to leverage the power of “urgent patience” should consider time blocking. I’m a huge fan of time blocking, a method for making sure you prioritize prospecting. Time blocking means you literally block out chunks of time on your calendar before a week even begins in which you will do nothing but reach out to prospects. That’s “urgent patience” at work.

The key to time blocking is to never cheat. Once a time block is on your schedule, you should stick to it no matter how tempting it is to do something else during that time.

In an article about “urgent patience,” leadership consultant Terrance Seamon distinguishes between “false urgency” and “positive urgency.” He quotes Harvard professor John Kotter, who wrote, “True urgency focuses on critical issues.”

“False urgency,” Seamon writes, “is seen as people frantically running around doing lots of reactive activities in a state of fear-induced panic. Such an organization is driven by short-term pressure, frenetic, stressed out and exhausted.”

On the other hand, “true urgency is alert and proactive, thoughtfully attuned to opportunities.”

When people exercise true urgency, they take the initiative and work together to accomplish mission-critical things as expediently as possible.

Finally, Seamon writes, Go slow to go fast.” That’s particularly good advice for urgent-patient people who work in sales. We must plan well but never hesitate when it’s time to pull the trigger.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

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