Full disclosure: I suffer from what psychologists’ call “hurry sickness.” I didn’t know it had a name until recently, but nonetheless, I’ve always known that I suffer from it. I jam-pack my days. I overschedule. I say “yes” way too often. The benefits of my disease include getting a lot done, being admired by others who do less, and feeling an almost constant adrenaline rush. It is exciting to be in a hurry!
But there are serious downsides to this disease. One is that you live in a constant state of anxious worry about dropping one of the plates you are spinning. Another is that you will likely have stress-related ailments, some harmless and some life-threatening (eventually).
But here is something you may not have thought about as much.
You can’t serve the people or the organization well, and always be in a hurry.
Here is a short list of the problems for Dare to Serve leaders who hurry:
- Your thinking suffers. You are responsible for calling out the daring destination for your team or organization. They are counting on you. It needs to be thoughtfully developed and soundly assessed – before you risk their lives on your plan. Great thinking does not happen in a hurry. It needs rest, quiet, and breathing room to develop.
- Your people suffer. You are called to serve the people well. But you cannot serve them well without spending time with them. Unhurried time. Time to know their strengths, values, experiences, and concerns. When your calendar is overcrowded, you almost always will choose an obligation over a commitment to your people. Not a good idea.
- Your results suffer. When you try to do too much, you get less done well. You are human – and you simply can’t get it all done to perfection. Your team needs you to lead them to a win – to top performance. You’re not going to get them there without focus on a few, vital things.
So if you find yourself saying, “I think I have this hurry sickness thing,” here are a few actions you can take.
- Get some sleep. Despite sleeping about seven and a half hours a night, 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair.” Twenty percent of Americans reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven days. To give your team your best, please get yourself some rest.
- Book some quiet time on your calendar. Once, I told my team I had spent a work day in a silent retreat. They looked at me like I needed psychiatric help. Our culture does not value or respect quiet time. And as such, we don’t spend time in reflection, reading, meditating – and becoming a better version of ourselves. Do this, despite the stigma attached to it. One day a week or one day a month – you decide the frequency. Unplug.
- Put unhurried time with your people on your calendar before anything else. Lots of people talk about how much they care about their people. Very few people dedicate any time to it. If you truly believe that people create performance – make them a priority. The best leader I have met suggested you should spend 30% of your week with your direct reports, largely in one-on-one coaching conversations. In my experience, this has an amazing impact on the growth in your team – and the results. And yes, it is a lot of time. On something that matters.
- Do less. We are all trying to do too much, instead of doing the vital few things that would advance our organization. Focus is so powerful. Count how many things you are trying to have an impact on. If it’s 20, that’s hopeless. If it’s 12, that is really ambitious. If it’s 3-5, you could have a huge impact on the future. Seriously, you’ve heard this before. What you say “no” to is more important than what you say “yes” to. Cull your list. Do a few big things, and watch the results roll in.
Be well, team. Then you can serve well.
I’d never heard the term “Hurry Sickness” until reading this, but I see it everywhere. This is remarkable and poignant advice, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing. There is wisdom in stillness. And Hurry Sickness must be one of the leading causes of regret.
Cheryl, Tommy Herrington talked to me this morning about you. We are both members of The Atlanta Master Chorale fan club and I am deeply honored to perform with them next spring. Tommy and I are both eager for you to come see Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Theatrical Outfit where I am Artistic Director. So, he sent me to your website, and, of course, I was interested to know more about you, but I definitely had to tell you how much I appreciated this article on “hurry sickness”. It truly is a fatal illness unless corrected. About 15 years ago, I had to start a very intentional recovery-of-slow-and-quiet program. I’m hopeful that we get a chance to discuss this and other topics further. In the meantime, thank you very much for sharing your wisdom on leadership. It really is an “extreme sport” and worth every bit of it.
This describes me to a ‘T’. I also didn’t know there was a name for this. Fortunately, I made a career move and helped resolve a lot of the issues. Unfortunately it seems I have passed this Problem With Hurry trait on to my adult children who are now demonstrating it to my grandchildren. We need to break this cycle.