You have probably heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. If necessity is its mother, desperation must certainly have been its father. Creative people often come up with breakthrough solutions only when they’re forced to.
Professors from the University of Chicago and Harvard determined that there is direct correlation between when unemployment runs out and when people get a job. While desperation may be a great motivator, it’s not always the most productive way to perform with excellence. I believe there is a win/win solution here as you and I—as mature, functioning people—can set our own deadlines.
Abraham Lincoln often described maturity as the ability to perform vigorously long before the urgency is at hand. Most of us during our high school or college years allowed the deadline for the term paper or the date for the final exam to creep up on us before we were fully prepared. Successful people overcome this in their professional lives as they set their own deadlines and do not let outside forces or other people control their sense of urgency or force them into desperation.
Invariably, if you and I wait until the last minute to undertake some creative or critical task, we will perform less than our best, or a crisis will arise that requires us to divert our attention. Even if you dodge the bullet and don’t get burned by waiting ’till the eleventh hour, sooner or later this practice will catch up with you. You can run a red light and possibly avoid an accident and even escape without a traffic ticket, but if you do this long enough, you will suffer serious consequences.
There are two diverse time management techniques that should control your allocation of effort and energy. First, never make a decision until you have to; and second, once you’re committed to a project, do it now.
As a professional speaker, I am often asked by event promoters or meeting planners if I am available to speak at their convention or annual event at some date in the distant future. Our practice is to first check the date and hold it if it is available but, also, to inquire as to when they need to finalize a decision. Many times, we find that if promoters or meeting planners don’t need my commitment for several months, the flexibility of waiting for a final decision can open the door for other opportunities.
On the other hand, once I have committed to write a book, draft a screen play, or undertake some other extended creative process, I understand the time to get started is now. Invariably, if I wait until the last minute, other opportunities may present themselves, but I will be unable to take advantage of them if I haven’t done what I should when I should.
You and I cannot control other people, market conditions, or outside forces, but we can control our own decisions, focus, effort, and energy. If you assume there are always more great opportunities coming along around the next corner, you will keep your mind open and your calendar clear so you can take advantage of them.
As you go through your day today, remember that being in the right place at the right time is not a matter of luck. It’s a decision to stay out of the wrong place at the wrong time.
Today’s the day!