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The Neuroscience of Big Project Success
for CEOs & Entrepreneurs - Part1


As a CEO or entrepreneur, perhaps you can relate to the struggle of, on the one hand, dealing with the immediate demands of targets and customer deliverables - the essential now - and, on the other hand, trying to find the time for important projects or systems improvement - big things that are for future benefits.

These more significant projects just take so long it is hard to find the time to attend to them - to find the amount of time required to get them done - especially when they are important but not as urgent as the day-to-day immediate challenges, wouldn't you agree?

But, have you ever been able to pull off a miraculous result in a seemingly impossible short time frame because it simply had to be done? I have. How were you able to do that?

This morning, I spoke to a client who, just last week, had a seemingly impossible load. I asked, “Thinking about what HAD TO be done, without any time frame, if I listed all that had to be done on top of your normal load, how long would you say that would take?” “One month at least’, she replied. “Yet you did it all in the week and effectively ahead of time. How did you do that?” It was a sense of urgency. “There was no choice in the matter. It just had to be done”, she said.

When there is urgency, and it is important, amazing things happen in the brain. But what about when there isn’t a deadline? What if you could have a brain hack that lets you artificially tap into your brain's natural reward mechanisms, releasing chemicals that make you feel good and alert while also enhancing your ability to concentrate AKA you can get the big stuff done much faster.

Creating a sense of urgency isn’t about generating excessive stress or burnout. It's about motivating yourself to prioritise important tasks efficiently and effectively.

Neuroscience of Motivation

When we perceive a task as urgent, the brain interprets it as a potential threat or opportunity and triggers dopamine release, creating excitement, but more importantly, focus. Urgency can also trigger hormones like adrenaline.

These hormones prepare us for action, making us more alert and energised. The brain region responsible for decision-making and problem-solving, the Prefrontal Cortex, becomes more engaged under a sense of urgency. This helps us make quicker decisions.

All of these factors combine to boost our motivation and productivity, making it more likely that we will take action and get things done in a seemingly miraculously fast time.

Pro & Con of The Impact of Urgency

It's important to note that the impact of urgency on cognitive functioning can be both beneficial and detrimental. Prolonged urgency can impair memory, attention, and decision-making. So, it's crucial to maintain optimal cognitive functioning in the long term, using techniques such as time management and mindfulness.

In Part 2 of this topic, I will share my five tips for artificially creating a sense of urgency. But for now, why not experiment to find what works best for you to create your own urgency for essential tasks that will have a significant and lasting impact on your company?

Deb Maes

Deb Maes


Deb Maes, M.A. Comm is like a magician in the way she is able to discern the exact key to unlock more of the untapped potential in leaders.