How many times have you heard from your coworkers, friends and yourself the old line about being too busy fighting alligators to drain the swamp? How often does your life seem to be a car crash of intersecting urgencies?

It’s easy to get sucked into a business culture where everything is urgent, everything is a priority. You start your new job and on day one you’re thrown into crisis mode meeting hell. The next time you realize you’ve never been out of crisis mode at work, three years have gone by.

There’s a whole genre of management books about how to instill urgency, crisis mode thinking and above all fear in your underlings. The basic premise hasn’t changed since slaves toiled away raising pyramids to the glory of their masters: crack the whip, execute a few slackers and the rest will get their butts in gear.

Then there’s Mainstream Media feeding on crises – large and small, real and contrived. From 9/11 to a car crash on the other side of the world, mainstream media will be there – if there’s video – to bring you the crises of the day, the hour, the news segment. Because while fearful people used to run away from their lords and masters into the forest, they now run to the mall or box store and go shopping. Fear sells. Fear and contrived urgency as recent history has shown makes it easy to get people to do things they don’t want to do for the benefit of the people controlling – managing – the fear.

So, let’s get to particulars here: who is creating, managing or exploiting crises in your life and why?

  • It could be your boss who dumps a must have it or die assignment on your desk on his or her way out the door.
  • It could be traditional media who feed on tragedy, fear and blood to generate advertising revenue (I speak from experience).
  • It could be your local, state or federal “public servants” who a long time ago realized no one would fire their asses if we were “in a crisis”.
  • It could be interest groups and policy influences on the right, left or up and down who want more of your attention, money and fear for their crisis.
  • It could be boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband who makes crises big and small like popcorn to keep you hopping.

And now for the nasty sharp point of this post: what are you going to do about it?

  • You could do nothing. (That’s worked so well, hasn’t it?)
  • You could go berserk and smash your job, your relationship, your government, your television. Then you become the crisis and you will get handled forthwith.
  • Or you could decide there’s more than a little wisdom in the saying “Your crisis doesn’t equal my urgency” and stop automatically buying into every crisis your boss, client, spouse or government offers.

Pick and choose your crises. Pick and choose whether to add to your stress and subtract from your life.

Make no mistake there are real crises that are worth your best and fastest efforts – your house is on fire, global climate change (same thing, only bigger), to name two. But start exercising your right as a human being to decide for yourself what is a real crisis, what is urgent and what crisis is propaganda, spin and lie.

Bob Walsh sells MasterList Professional, a Windows task management application and writes, codes,
podcasts and blogs about different aspects of the digital lifestyle at ToDoOrElse, MyMicroISV and Clear Blogging. His second book, Clear Blogging, is now available at Amazon and elsewhere.

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