One of my biggest learning experiences was becoming co-founder of a small app, Cuddlr. And by small, I mean there were three of us, and by co-founder, I mean not only partial owner, but also customer support. Did I mention there were only three of us? At a certain point, I took the lead on customer interactions and handled the sometimes hundreds of emails that came in every day. We had hundreds of thousands of users. Our app was about connecting people. They always had an immediate need.
What was profound was not just the invaluable insight into the customer experience, but the sense of urgency every single issue presented. We might have a very rare bug, but that error made a loyal user miss an opportunity to connect with someone else. There is a very ambitious feature we were yet to implement, yet that one detail would make the app so much more meaningful to a concerned user. Being up close and personal with every vocal customer meant everything seemed horribly important at that moment. It was tempting to fix everything, add everything and, well, prioritize everything in the next update. That, of course, was impossible, and we'd risk rushing and potentially breaking the app itself. Building that customer base wasn't something we rushed, either.
Instead, it took all my willpower to help us prioritize our intentions and turn that feedback into motivation. Our customers would give us energy to focus on making a better product overall. If we kept the mission in mind, the customers' vocal needs would galvanize us forward. The priorities would become clear. The results were a constant steady stream of app updates, two rises to the top of the Apple Store, and an eventual acquisition.
In a recent Medium post, One Medical CTO Kimber Lockhart explains why urgency and rushing rarely gets the job done:
As anyone who has ever forgotten their keys in an effort to get out of the house on time knows, hurry often backfires. The panicked, frantic pace values action over results and has consequences.
Let's retire sense of urgency and instead look for sense of purpose. A sense of purpose is a deep understanding of the reasons behind our efforts and a desire to pour in time and energy because that purpose resonates with the impact we'd like to make on the world.
Purpose creates focus, and focus creates speed. Think about the action movie hero who is lost, but is galvanized when his friend or mentor is in trouble. Consider the near-death experience that brings us closer to our true calling. As The Sweet Spot author Christine Carter shared with me recently, "The most successful people have very fulfilling, very meaningful lives. They understand their purpose for other people, not just themselves." That purpose creates productivity and results.
In what ways should you be facilitating purpose and focus rather than urgency?