If You’re Rushing, Something is Wrong

Donald Miller

At Storyline, we’re pretty even keeled. We don’t get too excited or worried and things pretty much get handled ahead of schedule. How that happened with a group of artists, I don’t know, but everybody who works with us seems to appreciate our flow of business.

Essentially, if we are rushing, we know we’ve done something wrong.

Of course there are plenty of great reasons in life to rush. If you’re an ER doctor or a professional ping-pong player, rushing seems appropriate. But in most endeavors, feeling a constant sense of urgency and panic means somebody hasn’t done their job. And that somebody is most likely the person who is making everybody else rush around.

*Photo by Biblio Archives, Creative Commons

Years ago I worked on a project with another company and noticed everything they did was urgent, needed to be done immediately. I’d get emails that commanded me to respond that day. I got absolutely tired of working with these guys.

What I realized is that the folks running the show didn’t have much of a plan. They were reacting to everything and, sadly, working about twice as hard as they needed to. And of course, the project failed miserably. It cost a lot of people a lot of money.

Learning from that experience helped set the tone for Storyline. I got an email from an outside vendor recently asking for an important decision to be made that day. To be honest, I could have made the decision, but instead I emailed the vendor back and said we simply didn’t do that. And I’d get back to him after I met with our team. What I was doing was teaching the people who work with us about how we do business. We don’t make quick decisions when we don’t have to, and under no circumstances do we panic.

Here are a few ways I keep from letting my life, and our company, from entering into rush mode:

    1. We think long term. At Storyline, we have five year goals. Nobody panics about five year goals. We just point in that direction on the horizon and get moving.

    2. We devise a plan. Before moving on anything, we develop a plan. The plan needs to encompass all aspects of the project and everybody involved needs to know where they fit and why what they are doing is important to the overall narrative of the project.

    3. We choose pace over profit. Many business owners will cringe at this, but we never go for the quick buck. We’d rather define ourselves by being calm under pressure than by reacting quickly. We want to be the narrative-planning company of the future, not the company of the moment.

    4. We are early. By this, I mean we start long before we need to to get the job done. We were a month early on our Christmas campaign, a year early on taking registrations for our conferences, a month early reordering books and so on. Rushing often happens when somebody is late with something. We try not to be late.

Are we perfect? Absolutely not. There are times when even the most strategic companies finds themselves reacting and rushing. But if you see us doing that, it’s probably because we made a mistake at some point. And it stinks when we have to rush. It feels unnecessary and it also causes me concern that one of our customers is being neglected in our panic. I hate it and I can’t wait to get back to the peace and calm of normal operations.

All this said, I really think slowing life down is about planning early and not deviating from the plan. I think staying calm is only partly about the mental game in the moment, but mostly about what we did the days and weeks and months before the moment hit us on the back of the head.

So, are you in an environment where you are constantly having to rush?

What would need to be done to move into a more peaceful, calm way of doing life?

Is it possible for you?

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. He helps people live a better story at creatingyourlifeplan.com and grow their business at storybrand.com. Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.