September Blog

This month we will discuss:

  • The Important verses the Urgent
  • Quotes
  • Chesapeake News

The Important Versus the Urgent!

Yesterday I had a date with a MOU surgeon in Birmingham to remove some skin cancer.  For several decades I have had an annual appointment with a dermatologist.  Each year I get undressed in front of several ladies much younger than me.  One lady (the doctor) looks over every inch of me carrying a can of liquid nitrogen with her.  About ten times during the exam, normally on the top of my head or ears, she will zap me.  We do our normal talk of families, I put my clothes on and off I go for another year.  This year was different.  There was a spot below my left ear she did not like so she numbed me up sliced off a piece and sent it to the lab.  It was cancerous and she referred me to several places in Birmingham that did the MOU procedure.  The surgeon sliced down until there was no cancer and I am good for a while, confident that I do not have cancer in that specific place.

My annual trip to the dermatologist is important but not urgent.  However, if I had ignored the important and waited for the symptoms of skin cancer to notify me, then it would have been an urgent activity.  It has been my experience that most people spend more time on the urgent and not enough time on the important.  Had they spent time on the important perhaps the urgent could have been prevented.  I have heard the same thing expressed in a different way – “people are too busy putting out fires; fires that they started.”

You may have seen the cartoon of the cave man, standing at the mouth of his cave fighting a fierce battle with the bad guys.  He is outnumbered and spears and arrows are flying everywhere.  His secretary taps him on the shoulder and tells him there is a salesman in the lobby to see him.   He tells his secretary he did not have time.  The salesman sold gatling guns.

“Important” normally is boring and mundane.  Important is exercising each week, doing your daily devotionals, spending intentional time with friends and loved ones, reading good stuff and learning new stuff.  “Important” takes time out of that very busy schedule of yours.  Many times, “important” gets pushed to the back burner – until it becomes urgent.

Another thing I have noticed in my career – most of the time folks fail to make the link between ignoring something important and then having to deal with the urgent consequence of ignoring what was important.

I see “important” ignored the most in pouring into the training and education of our workforce.  Also, in the detail of hiring.  In today’s environment many will hire anyone who can fog a mirror – it takes too much time to do the proper analysis and background.  Unfortunately, we do not see the link between the crisis caused by a bad hire and not doing the important work up front.

Your personal and corporate planning documents should have “important” items listed.  Be sure and put those on your calendar and get them executed.


  1. Be not merely good; be good for something.  Henry David Thoreau
  2. Good habits formed at youth make all the difference. Aristotle
  3. True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in the worth and choice.  Ben Johnson
  4. Those who wish to sing always find a song.  Swedish Proverb
  5. It is not the critic that counts. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.  (one of my favorites) Teddy Roosevelt (also one of my favorites)
  6. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.  Frederick Douglass
  7. Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and enables the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  8. You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him. Booker T. Washington
  9. Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.  Henry Brooks Adams
  10. Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.  Mary Lou Cook
  11. Strengthen me by sympathizing with my strength, not my weakness.  Amos Alcott
  12. Christ’s light which comes to us cannot be kept, hoarded, hid, suppressed.  Christ’s light which comes to us must beam through our lives, shine on our paths, and go from us, to be made more in the sharing.  Roberta Porter
  13. It is the vocation of all baptized Christians to become living icons, transparent windows through which the light of device light pours. This is the ultimate search of human life, to become seers and bearers of that light.  Wendy Wright
  14. Love is the threshold where divine and human presence ebb and flow into each other. John O’Donohue
  15. We make the decision as to whether the events of our lives will serve as steppingstones or stumbling blocks.  Maxie Dunnam

Chesapeake News:

The big news item for this month is our non-profit, The Chesapeake Unity Foundation has been approved.  As many of you know, we have plenty of experience in this arena.  We are excited about the possibilities and we are looking forward to helping our community in this capacity.

Here is our first stab at our mission statement:

“The Chesapeake Unity Foundation uses its resources, talents and gifts to help make a difference in our local and global communities.  Our focus is to provide wisdom and guidance to those in authority—especially law enforcement and corrections personnel.  By providing our unique style of leadership development supported by behavior and skill assessments we want to better prepare deputies to interface with the public and inmates within jails and prisons.”

We are thrilled to begin this new adventure.

John Covington