We all know the mantra: “Ignore the urgent and do the important.” Why doesn’t this knowledge translate into better living? Why do we continue to answer Urgent’s siren call?
I think it’s because “the important stuff” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Important sounds, well, important. Important is as explosive and diffused as a shotgun blast—the pellets of a shotgun casing are, after all, heading in the same direction seeking a bird to down, but then defuse by design. Intention is pointed in the same direction but is more like a bullet from an elephant gun—it’s designed to do one thing: drop a charging elephant.
Allow me to introduce Intention, cousin of Important.
Intention has a much higher pedigree than Important. Let’s personify the abstractions of Important and Intention as the actions of a couple quarterbacks in the closing weeks of this 2014 NFL preseason.
Johnny Manziel was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. It’s no surprise that at the start of the preseason Manziel said he was focused on winning the starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns. That was important to him. But, based on some very public behavior, it appears equally “important” for him to balance that with partying.
Consider this scene from the preseason Cleveland-Washington game: As Manziel returned to the huddle late third quarter in a 24-23 loss to Washington, he raised his middle finger toward the opponents’ bench. In the midst of an abysmal quarterbacking performance, this was one of the few times this quarterback found his intended target—the Redskins. But, the shotgun also spread out and hit his head coach.
“It does not sit well,” Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said. “It’s disappointing, because what we talk about is being poised and being focused…That’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback.” 1
Manziel’s focus on Cousin Important—winning the starting job—depended on his performance against other teams. However, even that goal seems to be in jeopardy as his competitive fire didn’t make any points with his head coach.
Juggling several important goals isn’t good enough.
Next, consider the game in which Payton Manning was penalized and, worse, fined for taunting. But, let’s dissect Manning’s action a bit.
On the surface, taunting could be seen as a gentrified form of the bird. But, Manning is like Intention: he’s focused on leading his team on track to win. Of the penalty, Manning said, “Fifteen yards with five seconds left in the half doesn’t hurt you that much. I think if you’re going to get one that’s a good time to get one.” Note that this is the first time in his 17-year career that Manning has been fined for taunting. After a 29-year touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders Manning taunted Houston safety D. J. Swearinger. That taunt was in retaliation for Swearinger’s concussion-generating blow to the helmet of Wes Welker.
One wonders if Manning was checking off the pros/cons of that action as quickly as he checks off potential receives on each play:
• Manning chose to taunt in preseason,
• with five seconds left in the first half and
• his team leading 17-7 after that touchdown to Sanders.
Result: he was fined $8200–about what he makes in 31 seconds.
His reaction: “I accept the fine. It’s money well spent.”
• defending a teammate.
• sending a signal to his team that he’s behind them.
• telling the world that he won’t put up with having his team disrespected.
Manziel is a Cousin Important in his actions both on and off the field. Important is expansive like Jonny Manziel’s “focus” on winning the starting QB job for the Browns. Result? Manziel zero.
Manning, on the other hand, epitomizes one who would rather hang with cousin Intention. Manning’s focus on rehearsed, orchestrated execution of a passing game has no equal in execution. Intention has a singular heading. Result? Manning won.
Our intention is each tap of Michelangelo’s chisel. Each blow on that marble block unlocks some facet of the David within ourselves. Who would you rather have on the journey to get you to your “David”? I’ll take a Cousin Intention like Payton Manning over the “focus” of Cousin Important/a Johnny Manziel.
What’s the “David” you’re trying to release in your business or your life?
What’s “Important” that you need to leave behind? Consider the next chisel blow you can make today to unlock your “David.”