Urgency vs. Desperation

Do you work with a sense of urgency?


Without reading further and before knowing any more about the truth behind the word “urgency,” take a moment to answer critically. Based on your perception of how you run your business, do you believe you work with urgency?

Yes or No?

Before we can see if you truly do and if your brief self-assessment is accurate, let’s talk about what urgency is and what it isn’t.

John Kotter, the author of the 2008 release A Sense of Urgency, said in a Harvard Business interview, “Urgency is fundamentally an attitude; a way of thinking, a way of feeling, and a way of behaving. It’s a sense that the world has enormous opportunities and hazards. [Urgency] is this gut-level determination that we’ve got to deal with the changing world and do something today.

Do you still believe you work with a sense of urgency?

Let’s look at our counterexample today—working with a sense of desperation.

Now, when you think of the word “desperation,” your brain may jump to dating practices you may have witnessed in your life. In the late 80s, Screech chased Lisa Turtle in Saved by the Bell, in the 90s, Steve Urkel relentlessly pursued Laura Winslow.

And though I’m not here to offer dating advice of any kind, the parallels between desperation in work and in love are striking. I won’t spell them out for you, but as we go along, keep the example in the back of your mind to fully understand what I mean by working with a sense of desperation.

A Look at Desperation



When a desperate person wants something, they stop at nothing to pursue it.


Now, this seems like a very admirable trait in business, but I’m here to burst your bubble. It’s not. In real estate, for instance, you need to make decisions based on opportunity, spurred from reliable education, and backed with sound numbers. You cannot trust yourself (at least not right away) to know exactly what you should look for.

Let’s say you spot a house you believe should be flipped, and so you stop at nothing to obtain that property. Because you believe it’s what you should have, you pay too much for it, put too much money into to renovation, lose money on the deal (if you even get anyone to fund it since the numbers don’t make sense), and you walk away completely unsatisfied because the payoff didn’t match your desire.

You got the project done, but at what cost? It takes time to realize what you SHOULD want. Don’t hang onto something like a relentless pit bull, but instead, understand the urgency of want to a project that makes sense and to do it right.


 Desperate people are easy to spot and are often found fishing for compliments.


Seeking approval isn’t solely indicative of being desperate, but getting an “Atta boy!” shouldn’t trump personal satisfaction that you performed a job well. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a compliment, but it shouldn’t be your goal in life or in business. Stand firm in who you are, and any words of affirmation you receive will be a cherry on top.


People who are desperate are always available.


There is something noble to be said about someone who picks up the phone without letting it go to voicemail or answers an email within 24 hours. That’s not what I’m talking about.

A person who acts from a sense of desperation will drop an important task like researching whether they are bidding on a first or second lien on a foreclosed property at auction and will instead race off to decide between two shades of paint for the bathroom on a current project.

A person who acts with desperation believes all tasks have equal importance and race around to solve every tiny problem brought to their attention in favor of focusing on what’s important.


Desperate people rationalize bad treatment and often lower their standards.


Don’t put up with behavior you know you don’t deserve because you’re desperate to get a project done.

I’ve seen investors repeatedly forgive contractors for being late, not showing up on a job site, charging more than the agreed price, and pushing the investor around because the investor’s desperation to finish a project clouded their judgment.

I’ve seen investors accept the first counter offer they were given on a property only to be unable to find financing for the deal because they were so desperate to get a piece of property under contract that they failed to see that they were putting together a bad deal.

You need to know what your time is worth, what you deserve, and how high your standards should be.

The bottom line is when a desperate person is after something, how likely are they to get it? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. But what starts in desperation rarely results in success.

So, how do you move with urgency instead?

You can’t do everything, and if you continue to try by working 100 hours a week, you’ll run yourself into an early grave.

Just ask Lowel Yoder, a participant in several Lee Arnold Real Estate Investing programs who used to own and operate a bakery. After occasionally sleeping in the bakery office to save time as he worked upwards of 20 hours a day, he knew he wasn’t even running a successful business.

Fast forward to his decision to get into real estate instead, Lowel got real about his new field, got an education in it, acted with urgency, and went from totally broke made consistent, impressive income in his first 3 years. To learn more of Lowel’s story, <CLICK HERE>

Why Do We Need Urgency?


We need urgency because the rate of change is steadily increasing. As the real estate market moves forward with the change in environmental, economic, and political factors, you need to keep up with the changes to succeed in it.

Now, the fundamental truths will always be the same—like buying properties at a specific percentage of the ARV to assure a profit, for instance. But you can’t rely on something you did twenty years ago to serve you to its fullest today. Remember, urgency is an understanding that the world is moving faster than you, and the desire and action to jump on the train as it speeds by.

Right at the beginning of successful change, you must develop a sense of urgency to get the momentum going, and if you don’t, your world slows down and becomes more frustrating.

For instance, let’s say you’re an urgent person who is determined to keep up with an ever-changing field. You pull your team together for a meeting to discuss the changes in the market and how you can maximize your reach.

Have determination not just having that meeting now, but to have the meeting and accomplish something within it that moves you forward on what is truly important. (If you haven’t picked it up yet, I highly recommend the book Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable about Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick Lencioni.)

Instilling Urgency in Your Team


Urgency benefits you because when you move with insistence, you start doing the things in your business that manipulate the needle in the right direction. But instilling urgency into your team is critical for your own urgency to thrive. Nothing can stall out good momentum like one person dragging their feet.

Make sure you hire people who stick to deadlines, are properly motivated, and who you can incentivize for better results.

Time is money, and just one person on your team can halt a well-cultivated sense of urgency and cause undue frustration.

Having urgency creates the type of environment around you that enables you to get stuff done faster and with more accuracy. Roadblocks don’t seem as big; problems don’t seem as daunting. Make sure you’re instilling this into those you work with, and one of the best ways to do that is to lead by example: Move with urgency yourself!

Don’t Confuse Urgency with Desperation:


One way to define desperation is having a false sense of urgency. It’s a lot of business, moving around quickly, running from meeting-to-meeting and being driven by anxiety and frustration.

Urgency is different. It’s a gut-level desire to move now, do it right, and bypass the junk and the hamster wheel business in order to accomplish the things that create real change.

When you move with a sense of desperation, you move too quickly, believing if you do enough of anything, something will come of it.

Moving with urgency, you do exactly what is needed to get the job done on time and correctly.

Moving with desperation is often paired with the fear that if you stop, you won’t be able to start up again.

Moving with urgency comes with a calm understanding that you’re working in the right direction and is full of self-trust in your ever-growing capabilities.

This distinction is vital to your success. When I asked you at the beginning if you work with a sense of urgency, did you answer Yes? Did you then read on only to realize you need to make some changes?

I’ve seen many businesses, organizations, and solo-entrepreneurs say, “No! I don’t have an urgency problem; I’m busy all the time!” But busy doesn’t equal urgent.

How to Develop a Sense of Urgency


1. Know what’s at stake. What is it costing you to not act with urgency? How many properties are you missing out on? How is the market changing right under your nose?

2. Don’t panic, stress, or lose control over yourself, your team, or your projects. You’re never going to be perfect, but growth is key. Desperation leads to overwhelm, urgency shows a clear vision.

Security in work breeds urgency. Complacency in progress breeds desperation.

3. Identify obstacles, energy drains, and busy work, and get rid of them. Identify how much you’re worth per hour and if you can hire someone to do the same work you’re doing for less, delegate the task out. This frees up more time to focus on the needle moving behaviors you need to build momentum.

4. Set goals. This goes without saying, but a dream without a deadline is a dead dream. If you need help setting goals, we have plenty of articles here and on CogoCapital.com/blog about goal setting.

5. Meet your personal deadlines and expect your team to meet theirs. Keep momentum going by proving to yourself that you can do what you set out to do.

6. Celebrate your successes. Nothing builds momentum quicker than feeling like you’re acting with urgency. You have permission to pop a bottle of Champaign when your project sells (if that’s your idea of celebrating). Maybe you want to go out to dinner or plan a trip. This circles back to realizing what is at stake. Don’t just look at missing out on a great housing market; understand, too, that if you don’t perform, you will miss out on great experiences you otherwise can’t afford. Fear of missing out is a powerful motivator.

If you have any questions about moving forward with urgency, we are happy to help. Maybe you need something new to invest in…

And if you want to talk about moving with urgency, you can’t afford to miss our Master Lien Abatement specialty lab. With our first training complete and our second sold out, we are building you up to turn garbage to gold by working with your municipality to acquire homes for pennies on the dollar.

In this training, we are creating leaders in this yet-unknown field—seriously, NO ONE is teaching this but us! But once towns and cities have their go-to people for these properties, it will be harder for you to get in on the opportunities. We’ve had attendees from all over the country, and here’s what they have to say:

To read more on this game-changing real estate strategy, <CLICK HERE> and <CLICK HERE> or call us now at (800) 473-6051Seats are limited and we’ve sold many already! Be the first in your area to master this process to gain an unparalleled edge in your real estate investing.

Put some urgency behind your actions. Start now.

Yours in Urgency;

Lee A. Arnold


The Lee Arnold System of Real Estate Investing

Follow me on Twitter: @CogoCapital  and @LeeArnoldSystem 

Have a deal? Visit us at www.cogocapital.com to fill out your fast and easy quote. Want to learn more about COGO first? CLICK HERE to get to know all the ins and out!

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