“Most things that are urgent are not important. And most things that are important are not urgent”

The earlier times were something. Even government officials said something worth pondering on.

Mr Frank Elderson, Executive Director of the Netherlands Bank in this speech quotes American President Eisenhower:

I’m sure we’ve all been in this situation. You’ve got something really important to do, but it never makes it to the top of the agenda. Instead, there’s always something more urgent that comes along and takes up all your time. Something you need to deal with right away. Which means putting everything else on hold.

A wise man once said: “Most things that are urgent are not important. And most things that are important are not urgent”.

Today I’d like to present you with three pearls of wisdom from this man. You’ve just heard the first. I didn’t mention this because you don’t appreciate the urgency of financial inclusion, but because you so admirably manage to keep the subject constantly on the agenda.

The man I just quoted was a Republican President of the United States. Although the president I am referring to spoke these words in nineteen fifty-four, they form the basis for a time management technique which is still widely in use today. Unfortunately – among some young people – this historical figure is better known for this technique rather than for all his other achievements.

I am of course talking about Dwight D. Eisenhower. The man who was not only President of the United States, but before that was the general who played such a paramount role in liberating Europe from fascism, putting an end to the Second World War. 

The famous Eisenhower matrix..

He says to address financial inclusion is both important and urgent:

But today I’m not just going to draw on Eisenhower for inspiration. I’m also going to look to you for inspiration. Because you have succeeded in bringing a sense of urgency to a very important matter. 

And you have done this despite facing a deadline that’s a long way off, while also having to contend with a constant stream of other issues. Over the years you have taken great strides towards financial inclusion.

And you continue to seek further cooperation. This brings me to the second of Eisenhower’s maxims. He reiterated how cooperation is a critical success factor for every mission: ”Leaders need to work with others and build coalitions if they want to get things done.” He said.

What things do we want to get done? And why are we concerned with financial inclusion at De Nederlandsche Bank?

Financial inclusion relates directly to sustainable prosperity. And that’s definitely an area that concerns us at the central bank. Because contributing to sustainable prosperity is an issue at the top of our agenda. That is why, six years ago, we added the word ‘sustainable’ to our mission statement.
Although that’s just one word. It can make a big difference.

Our mission statement now reads: We seek to safeguard financial stability and thus contribute to sustainable prosperity in the Netherlands. We don’t just do this by focusing on ourselves, following the principles of corporate social responsibility, however important that is. We also focus on the outside world, considering how we can incorporate sustainability in our role as central bank and supervisor of the financial sector. This is what our stakeholders ask us to do: Use that influence, use your influence, your convening power, use the leverage that you have.


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