What’s Your Urgency Response Index?

by Andy Wood on September 8, 2012

in Ability, Allocating Your Resources, Conversations, Enlarging Your Capacity, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Pleasers

Be the fly on the wall for this conversation…

It’s not that life here is so bad right now.


It’s that life is so busy.  Urgent all the time.

I can relate to that.

And not even that it’s urgent, but that I don’t feel as though I am responding well to the urgency I do have.

What do you mean?

Nothing ever gets completely done.  Or so it feels. My weekly schedule is pretty busy as it is.  Then factor in anything else that has been added to the schedule lately, and I’m having a hard time breathing.

I think I know what the problem is.

You do?

Yep.  Your Urgency Response Index is low.

My what?

Your Urgency Response Index.

Sounds serious.

It can be.

What the heck is an Urgency Response Index?

There’s really no such thing.  I just made it up.

What?  I thought you were being serious.

Hey, just because I just thought of it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  Let’s see if I can explain it.  Your Urgency Response Index is the ratio between the level of actual urgency you’re feeling divided by your ability to respond quickly and authoritatively to the situation.

Okay, slow down, genius.  This ain’t math we’re talking about – it’s my life.

The Camera

Okay, let me see if I can illustrate it with something we both enjoy.  What kind of camera do you have?

Canon.  T2i.

And where does it get its power?

From the battery.

Right.  Now how many pics can you get from a fully-charged battery?

Oh, it depends.  Hundreds in the daylight.  Not as many when I’m using the flash.

Exactly.  Now, every time you press the button to take a picture, you’re putting a demand on your camera.  But that’s OK – it’s built to take a lot of demand.  But have you ever tried to take a whole lot of flash pictures in a row?

Yeah.  After a while I look through the viewfinder and it’s flashing, “Busy.”

Exactly.  Every time you take a flash pic, you’re draining the battery a little and putting stress on the camera’s processor.  Again, most of the time the camera can respond ok.  But when the demands get higher and the camera’s ability to respond and process it starts backing up, it temporarily shuts down.

Yeah, drives me nuts.

In a sense, the camera’s Urgency Response Index is too low.

Makes sense.

One more possible issue there.  Ever fill up a storage card just when you’ve found the perfect shot?

Oh man!  Drives me crazy.  The camera says, “Out of storage space.  Please insert a new card.”

Yep.  Again, the camera’s Urgency Response Index is too low because you’ve used up all its storage capacity.

Okay, so to follow your illustration, to raise my URI on the camera, I need to recharge the battery, increase storage capacity, and give the processor time during flash periods.

That sounds about right.  What does that suggest to you about you?

I need to recharge my battery.  I need to increase my storage capacity.  And I need to give the processor more time during the high stress periods.

[Pause… smiling.]

Recharging Your Battery

So what exactly is my battery?

Well, to borrow the camera analogy, your battery is your power source.  It’s where you receive and spend energy – spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Scripture is neon-clear on this one – your power source is the Holy Spirit and your capacity to live under His control.

But the Holy Spirit doesn’t run out of power, does He?

No, of course not.  But you can exhaust your ability to make the most of His power.

How would I do that?

By losing focus and faith.  When you start focusing on the world around you, or on yourself, and when you start trusting in your own abilities and wisdom, then you’re running on empty spiritually.  And what’s scary is that in a lot of situations you can do that for quite a while before it catches up with you.

So what does recharging look like?

Another neon light in scripture.  You recharge by waiting on the Lord. [Isaiah 40:31]  I don’t mean waiting on Him like you wait on a traffic light or an elevator.  To wait on the Lord is to give Him your undivided attention and trust.  Focus and faith.

Sounds simple enough.

Yeah, but not at your level.  When you have a thousand urgent things yelling for your attention, the last thing you want to do is put them off for an hour or a day and focus on the Lord.

Is that what the Sabbath was all about?

It’s exactly what the Sabbath was all about.  It is also what Pentecost and all that furious activity of the early church was all about.  They waited and attended to the Lord for 10 days, then the Day of Pentecost came.

Most days I can hardly wait for 10 minutes.

Maybe that’s why you’re running on empty.

Increasing Your Storage Capacity

So what does it mean to increase my storage capacity?

It means learning to accept that you have limitations and dealing with it accordingly.  Let me hazard a couple of guesses.  You have a fair amount of goals or ambitions, don’t you?

As a matter of fact, I do.

And you like pleasing people, and have a hard time saying no when somebody wants or needs something?

Guilty as charged.

Okay – one more.  You’re pretty good at keeping several balls in the air at one time, aren’t you?

Not very good lately, but overall, yeah.

Okay, here’s the bad news.  It’s all going to come crashing down if you don’t eliminate some of the things you’ve been juggling.  The good news is that you don’t have to become the “No Monster” to make that happen.

Then what do I do?

Finish, for crying out loud.  Say no to some stuff until you can finish some things and get them off your plate.  Is there one thing you can do today that can “close the books” on something?

As a matter of fact there is, and I’ve been waiting for a week to get it finished.

Okay.  Stop everything else and do that.  Finish it.  Today.  When you do, you will have increased your storage capacity just a little.  Then you need some focus.

There’s that word again.

Yeah. But this is a different kind.  Here you’re disciplining yourself to focus only on what you can do well.  With the rest, you either delegate it to someone who would love to help you, or you simply say no.

But I hate telling people no.

I understand.  But it’s better to tell them no with integrity than to lie to them and still disappoint them because you can’t deliver on a promise.  Oh, and one more thing.  What do you do with the pictures on your camera card?

I move them to a hard drive.

Yeah, that.  That’s probably what you need to do with some of your relationships.  You’re not deleting them from your life. But you’re “storing” them for a while until you have more capacity to give to them.

Isn’t that unloving?

No more unloving than Jesus was when he kept moving and leaving people behind who wanted to monopolize His time.  He did it kindly, but He did it.

Giving Your Processor More Time

Okay, what about the processor thing?  What is that?

These are your super-high-demand seasons.  Maybe a real crisis or emergency.  Maybe a high-intensity time of day or week or month.

My wife just started back to school to get her graduate degree.  Is that what you’re talking about?

That’s a great illustration.  If she’s going to succeed, then her “school processor” is going to demand more of her time, and that time has to come from somewhere.

She says she’s just going to give up an hour or two of sleep each night.

That may work for a little while.  But eventually it catches up with her.  And don’t even get me started about multitasking.  That’s just code for “I think I’m Wonder Woman.”  When your camera light blinks “Busy,” it forces you to stop putting demands on it. In your wife’s case and yours, it’s better for your brain to rearrange your schedule than it is for your body to by getting sick.

So what you’re saying, with the camera analogy, is that we’re in a flash season?

Absolutely.  And your head and your heart and your body are screaming, “Busy!”  During the flash season, you’re going to have to slow down the demands.

Wow.  I’ve got some things to think about.

And some tough choices to make.  But it’ll be worth it in the long run.

You sure you just made all this up?

I’m sure.  But just so you’ll know, I’ve mainly been talking to myself.

Martha Orlando September 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm

What an amazing analogy! Just loved this! And, yes, it is so, so important to remember that, no matter how busy our lives may be, we are only hurting ourselves when we neglect our time with the Lord. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about this very same subject for an upcoming blog. 🙂
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Blessings, Andy!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post .."Honesty, Sincerity, Just Like it Used to be . . ."

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