Important vs. Urgent; How can you get it right?

Faced with the opportunity to earn 100 euros that you most probably could never collect, or 24.000 euros guaranteed.. what would you choose?

I’m working from my country of birth, Portugal, this week. I was born here in 1964.. my parents immigrated to the US, Philadelphia, in 1970.. I would return seeking a quality-of-life shift in 1991. I eventually left again in 2007 seeking new & more productive horizons.

The information I’m about to share with you has more to do with “mind-set” than it does to do with politics.

After 26 years of practicing productivity principles across 5 continents, I’ve seen enough personal, professional & societal examples of what’s killing productivity around the world.

The state of Southern European Productivity has more to do with the the mindset of the political & sociological (that’s you & I) culture than it does  with the capabilities of their populations. This is the first of a two part weekend series, and tomorrow I’ll share with you even more practical tools than the ones already shared here previously on this site.

The illegal fisherman on the river bank

As I was flipping through a national newspaper, I came across a brief news story that talked about a Minister of the Presidential Cabinet who had come to the local town I was in. With all due respect, Almeirim and it’s population of 22.617 is I consider a back-water town. The Tejo (as the locals call it) River runs mainly along similar “back-water” towns, many of which are 1/10th the size of Almeirim, until it pours out into the Atlantic Ocean in Lisbon. So I was naturally surprised to find that a Minister would travel approximately 100 kilometers from Lisbon in his motorcade to oversee an inauguration ceremony for a 2 person rubber inflatable boat being presented to the local national guard (GNR). Upon reading this story I was struck with the thought of our current economical crisis, and that the relevance of this addition to the national gaurd fleet was to stop illegal fishing.

The Tejo might look impressive in pictures, but anyone who lives here knows that due to the “damming” done up-river in Spain (where the Tejo originates), you can typically see more sand dunes than a raging river. Also, imagine what a back-water town of roughly 2.000 inhabitants looks like, especially in this economical state we live? Do you see the kind of (with all respect) “simpletons” who would be fishing without a license? Can you imagine the size of the fish they’d be getting out of the shallow murky waters of a dying river?

OK, so let’s forget the fact that I can’t even fathom investing two national guard salaries to look after these poor folks that are most likely just trying to feed themselves. Let’s forget the investment of the new boat. But really, a Minster & his entourage?!?! For at-best, to fine some poor bloke 100 euros that you won’t be able to collect on anyway because he’s most likely unemployed & can’t even feed his family properly?

Then I turned the page & this story got even more ridiculous!

Lisbon Ferry Inauguration delayed to lacking Minister agenda

About 3 pages after this story I just shared, was another story about two 350 passenger ferries that were sitting in the water, ready to be put into operation to alleviate the current over-populated use of existing ferries in the Lisbon area (population 2 million).

The Transtejo & Soflusa ferries had expected new vessels in 2008 & 2010, so they were obviously overjoyed when they finally recently received two new ferries. These 350 capacity ferries, in highly conservative estimations (60% passenger capacity not including vehicles), can earn approximately 24.000 euros per day minimum. This are guaranteed revenues because people need to get to work & home on a daily basis, and parking in Lisbon is both impossible & expensive.

These two vessels have been dormant for a few weeks now awaiting a Minister of the Presidential Cabinet, you know.. the guy up in Almeirim inaugurating a 2 man rubber boat.. who’s agenda is apparently fully booked with no opening in site to confirm a date for the inauguration of the two new ferries.

Who the heck even “inaugurates” these days? What happened to governing & looking out for the peoples who elected you? Our best interest?

Important vs. Urgent

What are you doing in your own life or work place that is more of an automated exercise because you’ve always done it, than it is important because it’s going to put food on your table or ensure you achieve your projected business results? What significantly important, strategic & valuable work or personal activity are you compromising in order to address “urgent” matters that may not have a direct bearing on the goals expected of you?

Look back on this past week, and imagine your life as a series of new stories you’d be reading in the Sunday paper. In comparison, how ridiculous do the two examples above seem now? How many times during your week have you built a discipline (& time) for reflection in order to do more of, or less of what’s currently affecting your own personal & professional productivity.

Remember.. it’s more about mind-set than it is about politics.. or any other challenges that you need to overcome.

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