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  • Writer's pictureStober

The Convergence of Spring & False Urgency


Spring in the Absaroka Range

Each May I block out a recovery window in my schedule with the intention of creating space for reflection and realignment. I’d love to tell you I took full advantage of the pause, but it would be a lie. Sure, I wedged in some time to think, but the bulk of my energy was directed towards planning.


And it wasn’t enough to look at the calendar and see that I was covered through June. No. I moved forward into July, then August, and then September. It wasn’t until I asked a friend if they could dog sit this fall that I realized how far into the future I was living.


What was behind the planning frenzy?

False urgency.


False urgency represents the internalization of our culture’s deep obsession with speed and productivity, an inherent component of capitalism and white dominant society. It’s how we put action to the belief that our worth is attached to our output, fueled by the assumption that there will never be enough time to prove ourselves worthy.


False urgency compels us to look far into the future, driving us to tackle the next task and stay on top of things. We do this believing time spent now will be reaped in the future, once everything is done. But there will always be more to do, and false urgency will compel us to do it.


This in and of itself is an issue, but an even greater problem lies underneath it.


Intentionally Pausing the Chronic Overwhelm

When we combine true urgency (the things that genuinely require our attention in the here and now) with false urgency, we experience overwhelm-which we have come to see as the marker of our productivity, and in turn, our worth. As a result, we exist in a state of chronic overwhelm, subconsciously seeking out the emotional, physical, and mental sensations we have come to correlate with our value.


I frequently name false urgency and chronic overwhelm in my consulting work, pointing towards their toxic effects on both workplace culture and our attempts to create a more equitable world. But, as is often the case, addressing these issues begins with our own inner work.




We can start by challenging our assumptions around the scarcity of time. The truth is there is plenty of time, we just suck at shaping it. Grasping the shape of our time requires an honest assessment of how we are utilizing it, and accepting the fact that just because something feels urgent, doesn’t make it important, and just because something is important doesn’t make it urgent.


Next, we must intentionally dismantle the belief that our overwhelm reflects our productivity and worth. We can do this by drawing attention to not what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it. Are we able to complete tasks in a relaxed, regulated state? Are we willing to trust our ability to shape our time well both now, and in the future? Are we willing to model these positions to others in the hopes that they will join us? I sure hope so, because we all deserve better.


May wasn’t all about reflection and contemplation,

there was a bit of Jump Starting, too.


Following my planning hiatus, I joined the 2023 cohort of Montana Conservation Corps Interns and Fellows for their orientation activities. The group had amazing energy, and everyone brought their A Game to our afternoon of training, which included the Cycle of Service, Mind Styles, and practices for building an alliance with their site supervisors.


That evening, I drove to Lincoln, Montana, to connect with the program’s Youth Crew Leaders, whom I would be delivering leadership training to the following day. As always, these corps members proved to be the best of the best, and I have no doubt that they will leave great legacies of service this season.

The 2023 Montana Conservation Corps Youth Crew Leaders

The following week I took off to northwestern Montana once again. My first stop was in Seeley Lake, where I delivered a Tips for Effective Meetings session on behalf of the Seeley Lake Community Foundation. The audience was lively and diverse, including nonprofits, homeowners’ associations, and volunteer groups.

Evening in Seeley Lake

The next day I made my way to Condon, where I spent the day doing strategic work with Swan Valley Connections, a wonderfully complex community conservation organization committed to stewardship of the Swan Valley. The organization is deeply purposeful and impactful, and I continue to be in awe of their scope of work and accomplishments.


The final leg of the trip brought me to Columbia Falls, where I spent the day delivering leadership training for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, a legacy organization that provides stewardship to a 1.5-million-acre Wilderness complex in the heart of the Crown of the Continent.

2023 Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation Crew Leaders & Interns

The end of the month was committed to continuing strategy projects with the One Valley Community Foundation and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, both of which will keep me in around southwestern Montana for the next two-months, which is always the plan.


Because you don’t leave Montana in the summer, especially when you've made it through another winter living on Bozeman Pass.

The Spoils of Surving Winter on Bozeman Pass

Take it low and slow my friends,

Stober






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