Tyranny of the Urgent v Try Easy

It happened back in the 70s. My unofficial title at that company was “the kid in engineering.” I was included in the management level whisked off to a company-wide conference. There I was introduced to the professional personal development and productivity guru genre.

I guess I’ll not forget the points the speaker emphasized–beware the Tyranny of the Urgent and Try Easy.

British writer Oliver Burkeman wrote in his last newsletter about Urgent. He calls himself the Imperfectionist. His book Four Thousand Weeks is worth the read…and re-read.

He describes urgency as “a whole state of mind, indeed of body: the anxious knot in the stomach, the clenched jaw, the furrowed brow.”

We get that way. We try to force our way through tasks many of which don’t even need to be done.

The opposite is to know what’s important and work through these in a planned way. Of course, sometimes plans go awry, but the “imperfectionist” adapts and continues. She tries easy.

Reflecting on Advent and beyond in these terms, consider the anticipation of the entire region of a spiritual awakening and a new order. Among some, I imagine even a sense of that urgency. Especially among Jews anxious for the overthrow of Roman rule.

And Jesus was born. Thirty years later he began his ministry. And many men could not wait. Getting rid of Roman rule was an urgent task in their minds.

They didn’t understand. Jesus obviously spent 30 years learning and growing. He worked his plan by teaching and mentoring those who didn’t yet understand. Then came the crisis moment–death, burial, resurrection. But that was later.

We’re still in the anticipation moment. What will the future bring? How will it change us? Change the world? Maybe today we still need to live with some of that anticipation. Perhaps this Christmas celebration and remembrance will bring some change in us.

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