“Reminders that I have choices have saved my life, literally and figuratively, so many times. You have choices. Remember, always, that you have choices.”

Our environments are full of urgency, real and manufactured. The manufactured urgency of a flash sale or a sales funnel. The real urgency of external circumstances. The inner urgency of the muse or from the perceptions of pressure. These things are all real, and they can make us forget that we have choices. How do we make reminders in our lives and in our organizations so that we remember we can take time, and evaluate our choices, before plunging into a decision that might not be the best? Jumping off a cliff should feel like flying, not like taking your life in your hands.

Transcript and notes:


Recorded 12 July 2023.


Hi, everyone, thanks for tuning in.

I know it sounds foolish, but I love doing this podcast. Today is the second day of Prime Day, which will give you some idea of how far ahead I've recorded this time. But prime days are so weird. Amazon started off with a day in October, I think? A little bit before the Mad Christmas rush. And then probably Finance said, Hey, move it back to July.

It used to be a surprise. Now they tell us when it's coming. It used to be one day. Now it's two days. It used to be that it was just in isolation. And now there are like pre-prime sales. And finally the thing happened that we knew would happen, which is that they have driven everyone else to have big, somewhat surprising sales in July. It works well. A Christmas in July kind of phenomenon.

For anybody who has to run a small business, it's a good idea to balance out the big buying in December with the big buying at the other end of the year. And also, oh my god, the sense of urgency that they tried to create.

Email after email about prime days are coming email after email about what do they call them flash deals? Flash deals, I think that's what they're called. Where the deal only lasts for a certain number of items or a certain amount of time, or I'm not even sure how they work.

I find mad dash-type selling environments to be really overwhelming. It makes sense to me the way a lot of my friends, make a wish list, and then go down their wish list and see what's on extra sale on Prime days and then buy that and then leave. That makes sense. I should probably do that. Even though I don't like to buy from Amazon, there are some big ticket items that if they had been on sale, it would have been good to get them now. And at some point one gives up on buying things like electronics ethically. No ethical consumption. Not like that anyway.

But this urgency, this urgency has such teeth and extra double plus teeth for most intensives. Not everybody of course. But most of us are easily hooked by the idea that if we don't get it now we won't get it. And that feeling is compounded by poverty by isolation by so many other things, insecurities, instabilities.

What if this really is my last chance to get that thing that I've been wanting? Or that thing that I didn't know that I wanted until five minutes ago when I saw the ad for it. That's a little easier to combat. But these teeth-y, pointy, intensive urgent sale processes are everywhere. It's one of the things I absolutely detest about most online selling.

There are good reasons to have urgency. There are legitimate small supplies, especially if you're a small company. But the false urgency, the countdown clock- no, no. Just no.

So how do we as intensives, who like to do things on the spur of the moment anyway, and you can get really sucked in by FOMO, and its accompanying other things- unless we are people who have trained ourselves never ever to do what the crowd does- in which case, sometimes we'll lose out on a good deal that we should have bought. Because we're too resistant. It's a double edged sword.

But how do we...? How do we make space in our lives and our brains for simple, spacious thoughts in the midst of a frenzy. This is one time when I find that lists are incredibly useful.

Some intensives live and die by lists. Some intensives do not. A lot of expansives love their lists and their charts and the graphs and the diaries that they actually put information into. I don't know how that works, but it does work. For a lot of people it works. And for things like this, I find lists help

I keep a list although it's a little out of date right now. But I keep a list. About once a quarter I'll sit down and write down all the big ticket items that I think I want to buy, even if I have no idea how I'll fund them. and usually by the end of six months or so, if I look back at two quarters ago's list, most of the things have gotten bought or deliberately shuffled off to the side.

But a list that tells me okay, I'm looking for this and this and this, can give me some room to breathe. A list with prices, a list with where I would buy it, if I weren't buying it here, reminds me that I have choices.

Reminders that I have choices have saved my life, literally and figuratively, so many times. You have choices. Remember, always that you have choices.

If someone is trying to tell you that this is the last chance you get to buy it, maybe it's just not the right thing for you to buy. Good sales copy will make you feel like it's perfect for you. And maybe it is, but probably somebody else will be selling it, if this person isn't selling it. Probably that information is available somewhere if it's not available there.

I can think of only one thing that I really wish I had been able to buy when it was discounted. And I came up to the deadline and I didn't have the money. And so I didn't buy it. And now it's out of reach. And I still would like to have it. But I can't imagine a world in which spending the new amount of money feels like a good decision. Maybe I'm wrong. My imagination could be wrong. But there are so many other things I want to do.

It's okay. It's okay not to do everything. That one's hard too. It's okay not to have every single thing right away. That one's hard. Maybe there's another way you can do it. That one's easier. intensives are good at finding alternatives.

So when we think about disarming urgency, what we're thinking about is opening up the tunnel, the funnel. They actually call it sales funnels, right? So often. You start out with this broad based easygoing space and little by little, the space gets narrower, the pace gets rapid or the density of people in it increases. And finally you find yourself in a place where there's no escape. I don't ever want people to feel like they don't have an escape. And I don't want to feel like I don't have an escape.

So when we think about disarming intensity part of it, is really looking at what you're being offered. I learned this from one of my partners. You look at it and it says it's on discount. And if you were raised like me, you're like oh discount, excellent. But then you look at the discount. And it's a 5% discount on a $10 item. I'm not in that much of a hurry, I don't need to buy that $10 item right now I will set that aside, I will think about it. I will put it on a list. I will put it in my cart. It can hang out until I don't feel this weird buzziness inside me.

This weird buzziness is a sign that I shouldn't do anything. That my cortisol is up, that my thinking is down. I don't want that. I don't want that for me. I don't want that for my people. When people who are thinking about being my clients get on the phone with me, I'm absolutely happy to say "take some time to think about it."

Would I love for them to be so sure that they just say yes on the phone? Yes. And if they are, that's great. But if they're not ready, I want them to go drink a glass of water, go for a walk, talk to a friend. I want you to want to be in my spaces. I want you to like being in my spaces.

Recently, I've been realizing how urgent I felt about the membership, about building it out and making it work. And I thought about things like I don't know, NPR, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Big institutions that have been around a long time that have persisted a long time and you know what? Everybody didn't join the first day. Most institutions change and move and grow over the years as they figure out who they need to be and who their people need to be.

The Intensives Institute has essentially two wings... three wings: -public education, public outreach; consulting for founders of small companies and their companies and their teams; and individual memberships for individual intensives, who are mostly in leadership positions and want to learn how intensiveness works for them and for the people around them.

That's a very broad-based mission. We do development and thinking and growth around intensiveness. We develop educational materials around intensiveness, we put out content on various social media platforms about intensiveness. So everybody can learn. We have a book, there's another one in the works, we'll see how long it takes for me to get it out. I bring people together. That's one of my skills, it's one of the things I do best. And it's not something that happens directly in the consulting world. That's why we have the membership.

Because sometimes you feel like you want to be connected to the work of a place or a thing, but you don't know if it's time yet. You're not sure if it's time yet to dive in, or you're coming up on a big initiative, but you're not in it yet. And you just want to support the work, stay connected to the work know what's happening. That's what the membership's for.

I want members to meet each other. I'm still experimenting with the best way to get that to happen. I want members to be able to share their brilliance with each other. Still experimenting with the best way for that to happen. I want members to hire each other. The directory is there. Do we need more? I don't know yet. I don't know yet.

According to my software billing and invoicing, the membership's been open for like eight months now maybe? I've had the software up and been operating it for about a year. And that's really interesting. I mean, there was another edition before that, right? This is a second stage evolution.

But the whole idea is that it can be an unhurried container. And that the work of the institute is something that we collectively participate in and support. And that this work is valuable for individuals because it changes lives. But it's valuable for organizations, because it changes the lives of the people and the organization itself. Makes it more resilient. Kinder. More gracious, more spacious. Less urgency, more joy.

Which is not to say that if you're an intensive and you have urgency around an idea that you can have it. You can have it and it doesn't have to be spiky for everyone else.

Your urgency doesn't have to be everyone else's emergency.

It can just be your urgency and that urgency can be born of joy. And you can create systems where everybody can share that joy together. And that is what urgency should be. Oh my god, I have to do this right now. Because I have to, because I'm inspired, because the Muse is dragging me around by my wrist. Not I have to do this, because otherwise I'm a terrible person. Otherwise, I haven't fulfilled my promise. Otherwise, I haven't What? No, no.

If you feel that way, probably there's other work to be done. Either also, or instead. But in reading, Rest is Resistance, what I'm discovering is a real spaciousness around just saying no to urgency. Anytime something feels like it's urgent -with very few exceptions- I can just say I need more time for that.

There are places where that's not possible. If I find myself in a position to buy a house, that's not going to be possible at least not unless the market changes tremendously. Which come to think of it might be the only thing that makes it possible for me to buy a house. But I digress.

Creating spaciousness, being able to stop and think. Being able to make sure that I've checked off all the things that I wanted to check. And there's still anticipation and nerves if you're opening something up or making a change or something. But it's not because you feel like you're gonna fall off a cliff if you say yes, or if you say no.

If it feels like you're standing on the edge of a cliff and it's not a good thing, maybe you need more time.

Jumping off a cliff should feel like flying. It shouldn't feel like taking your life into your hands.

Thanks for tuning in. Talk with you soon.