Friday 22 April 2016

Some (hurried) thoughts on Urgency

On a recent time management programme, we had a really interesting discussion. One of the academics there said that he does his best work under pressure; but he immediately challenged himself on that, which led to an interesting discussion. The consensus was, that despite it often feeling that way, the trope is not really true.  

What is the case is that when we meet a tight deadline, that feels like an achievement.  It is rewarding. And also, it lets us off considering the quality too carefully. Given that we were working against the clock, of course it wasn't perfect. Whereas when we work at a more measured pace, there is no excuse for poor quality work. Is that, perhaps, one of the reasons for urgency addiction: it lets us off the hook a bit?

That made me reflect further on urgency addiction, particularly in the light of all these books on neuropsychology I have been reading. So here's another, related, hypothesis. Working to a tight deadline triggers a release of adrenaline, (the fight or flight response), followed shortly afterwards by cortisol (which focuses us on the immediate crisis and therefore inhibits serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine). That results in us feeling lack-lustre, so we need more adrenaline to feel alive again.... Could that be why some leaders lead from crisis to crisis?

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