We need this ASAP – as soon as possible.

This phrase and acronym gets used every minute all over the business world. It’s littered in emails, phone calls, Zoom conferences and anywhere else that we’re discussing tasks or initiatives. It’s the standard for requesting something NOW.

While it may seem fine, and even polite compared to other request based terminology, I think it’s extremely toxic. In fact, I think it means something entirely different than “as soon as possible.”

I think it means “I want it now” or IWIN for short.

Let me explain…

When ASAP is mentioned it’s usually associated with someone making a request. For example:

  • A boss or CEO makes the request.
  • Someone in a leadership position makes the request.
  • Or, you simply make the request without any authority involved.

Why do we say this? Because the person requesting it thinks it needs to happen NOW. Whether or not that’s true is usually arguable. However, the true fact is that person is making the request with a sense of urgency. Something is driving their desire to have it as soon as possible.

And that right there is the problem…

We live in a speed driven culture.

We think everything has to happen as fast as possible so we can get to the next thing. So we push ourselves and others to work harder and faster for the sake of speed. We promote stress and anxiety through our desire to have things done immediately, instead of slowing down to let things happen organically without any applied pressure.

Why is this a problem, exactly?

Because speed kills creativity.

It forces an agenda where none is needed. It chokes off our unique abilities to design and explore with space. It makes something mediocre that could have been great. Speed rushes us to do shitty work, instead of amazing work.

It also fuels toxic games.

Speed promotes the endless games we’re all playing that yield winners and losers. We’re competing to see who can get to market first, up their competition, or [insert any business game here]. We praise and congratulate others for “crushing” their competition and putting them out of business. We hand out badges of honor for people who “grind” and put in more hours.

That’s where my new acronym IWIN comes into play. We’re saying ASAP because we’re trying to win. We don’t consider others when we say this. It’s all about us. “I want it now. I want to win.” That’s what I hear when I see that phrase.

So next time you say ASAP, consider what game you’re playing and why you want to win so badly.

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Ali Jafarian

Ali is a creator and coach who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a family man, entrepreneur, conscious technologist, explorer, podcast host and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.