Is This Really High-Priority?

I am introspective enough to realize I have a number of habits that annoy people on a regular basis. To put a soft number on it, I would say “dozens,” but I am fairly confident this figure is likely conservative from the perspective of my family, friends, and coworkers. While some bad habits are easily identifiable, such as my “sailor-like” vocal tendencies in times of frustration, I am much too obtuse, and my ego too fragile, to internalize most of the truly annoying conditions that people do not − or will not − point out to me (my wife being the exception). However, there is one particularly apparent bad habit I am constantly aware of but cannot seem to shake − I send an overwhelming number of “high priority” emails.

The allure of that beautiful red exclamation point button on Outlook’s taskbar, literally named “! High Importance,” is simply too irresistible. It draws me in like a moth to a flame, and, in my mind, that simple ‘!’ sends the receiver the following undeniable message: “DROP EVERYTHING NOW!!! THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!” Although I know each message I send with a red exclamation point has a decreasing impact, we all accept varying forms of delusion to get us through the day.

While I will not delve into the depths of my ongoing struggles with email, I did realize it may be worth writing a short list of what we view as high-priority – that is, what is so important we should drop everything and pay attention? You could call this a list of “core consulting beliefs” if you were writing a business book, but what it really comes down to is the basic traits and practices we feel are a foundation for long-term success in client portfolios.

What is Truly High-Priority?

While there are obviously more than 6 (or 7) high-priority components to strong client service and long-term portfolio success, these items create a universal foundation. If you take anything else away from this list, hopefully the next time you pause and feel a slight pang of guilt before you click that “! High Importance” email button, you’ll click it anyway, assuring yourself you’ll never be as bad as I am.