“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire” ― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
Urgency, such a common word these days. An extremely common word for me, certainly. We are so busy, so occupied all the time that we’ve come to the point of finding the phrase: “time flies” painfully common and experiencing little sense of dread after saying: “indeed”. The truth is that time does fly, every fleeting moment slipping like sand through our fingers, like water, impossible to hold its flow, and there is absolutely nothing you, me or anyone can do about it.
“You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.” ― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
I had never experienced true turbulence in a flight ever until yesterday, it’s just horrible, any moment could be your last. What are we to do then?!
We are only left with the alternative of making the best out of our lives, in whichever way we can manage (hard to do in this “comparing- yourself-all-the-time-world”, but that’s for another Chautauqua). Yes, of course, I know, and I’m sure you do too but being so damn busy all the time does not help, does it? Carpe Diem. How can we ever truly seize the day? How can we ever truly live with barely any time in our hands?
Take a moment to think about our health, not yours, but generally. Think about how many people die from heart disease. More people die from heart disease than from car accidents, it’s absolutely insane. We treat this problem with pills, with surgery and with money, a lot of money. Don’t you think it’s just ludicrous that a problem that could be solved with a proper diet is expected to find its solution in knives and dollars?!
That right there is the problem with living an “urgent life”. Killing small fires do not stop the fire, you have to get to the cause.
Our lives are not so different. Killing small fires like madmen and expecting the whole house not to fall completely. While you are busy solving one problem, ten more will pop up, just like the hydra. How do you kill the hydra, how can you reclaim your most precious asset, time?
“Life is long, if you know how to use it.” ― Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
There are few situations in life where urgency is as pervasive and demanding as in the war room. When it comes down to how many thousands of men will die because of your choices, You can be damn sure you are going to have urgent, scaringly urgent, issues on the table.
People tend to become mad in these type of situations. Incapable of keeping their cool and solving their problems with their own initiative and resourcefulness they instead ask around for and expect solutions, like children. This, of course, slows down everything and gets the country closer to defeat.
Eisenhower had to face this first hand, every day. No wonder he came up with a brilliant idea, an idea that would win the war eventually. A tool of the mind with which he was able to concentrate on the things that really mattered to win the war.
The titles Eisenhower accumulated during his career are impressive, the amount of important work, work that really mattered that he was able to complete is incomparable. He not only became one of the most praised and admired US presidents, but he also played a key part in WWII. He successfully commanded the invasion of France and Germany in 1944 and 1945, he was also responsible for planning the invasion of Noth Africa with the Operation Torch, which was successful as well.
Eisenhower was a man that dealt with the fiery fires directly, with the important, not the urgent, and he left us his mental tool to use it just as he did to win the war and achieve impressive political and economic stability during his presidency.
Those who are “out of breath for no purpose, always busy about nothing” do not have leisure but idle occupation– Seneca
Couldn’t be better described than by Seneca, indeed, most of us live our lives in this way, always thinking about the things at hand, just watching a single tree, too busy to get some altitude and see the entire forest. Always busy with the unending stream of problems and issues presenting themselves at every moment, blind to what truly matters.
I think you know it by now, but I’ll say it anyway. You have to get out of this quadrant, right now. null
Quadrants #3 & #4
Honestly, there is not much to say here, these are time wasting activities that just take our time like leeches, parasite activities that don’t get us nowhere but running in circles, these are the activities that make us lose the war.
Obviously, there are times when watching a good show on Netflix is just as important as dedicating some time to a new project, we are still humans and we still need to decompress, but there is a catch here, and that is that this activity becomes a quadrant #2 (the magic quadrant) activity if done correctly.
“Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs.” ― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
And so Seneca is right, very.
It is only when you take some time to think, little as it may be that you are able to get some perspective about what truly matters and get your hands to work.
This is the core idea, to figure out the quadrant #2 activities and then focus as much time as you can on them. Eventually, you’ll find yourself with more time and the best of all is that you’ll feel you are actually using your time appropriately.
To think and to decide what truly matters. The quadrant #2 is the quadrant Eisenhower dedicated most of his time in. Life is moving really fast, trust me, I know, and sometimes it can seem impossible to address this quadrant of your life but the thing is, there nothing more important than to address some time here, for as little as half an hour a day. This half-hour will eventually become an hour and then 2 hours and then 3 until your whole life is dedicated to this quadrant.
Do not commit the mistake of thinking that half an hour is too little time for an effective change, starting is the hardest step, trust me. This half an hour of planning addressing what’s truly important will work like compound interest.
That project, that book, that new job, will not get done by themselves.
So there you have it, now, take some heed to think your life and your decisions thoroughly, take some time to invest in yourself and gain some awareness of what is truly important, only then will you be able to truly live. Is there anything more important than this?
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