The B-Word: What Busy Really Means

Today’s content is a repost of one of my favorite blogs of all time. It continues to challenge me and I trust it will do the same for you!

How often do you say the word ‘busy’ each day? Over the past year, I have been pondering what we really mean when we say that we are busy. The word has crept into our vernacular and is so common that we likely do not realize how many times we say or hear it each week. The problem with this simple word is that it is used as a euphemism. Underneath this four letter B-word, masquerades a definition.

Here are six things that I believe the B-word really means.

1. I cannot prioritize. Therefore, I feel compelled to do everything and that makes me feel busy.

2. I need to feel important. Our culture places a high value on busyness. Therefore, if I tell people that I am busy, it must mean that I am important. Can you feel good about yourself if you are not busy?

3. I cannot say “no”. Of the many demands on my life, I feel compelled to do them all, or at the least, as many as possible.

4. I’m too busy for you. By stating that I am busy, I am really saying that I don’t want to spend time with you.

5. I don’t know how to be still. Keeping busy can be a way of suppressing things that we do not want to deal with (if I’m busy, I don’t have time to think about it). Alternately, sometimes we haven’t learned how to embrace a non-busy environment (our media rich-culture makes it difficult to be undistributed).

The last reason is really a positive use of the B-word, but it still requires you to rethink how you use of it:

6. I really love my life…and my schedule is full of things I love to do. If this is the case, you are in a good place! However, you may want to consider the different ways people interpret your use of the word. Is there a more effective way to express a full life without it being misinterpreted?

As leaders, we need to assess how often we use the word busy. If we use it often, then we need to assess why. When we have schedules full of things that we love to do, we’re not busy. Instead, I believe that we are fulfilled.


 

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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

A Year in Review: Three of Your Favorite Blog Posts and One of Mine

As I conclude my first year of blogging it is a good time to reflect on the topics that interested you, my readers, the most. Here is a quick reference guide to your most read posts of 2014.

1. Our New Four-Letter Word: This post focused on how we inappropriately use the simple word ‘busy’. This post even resulted in a twitter email from a reader who pledged to not use the word busy for the year (how is it going Cameron?).

2. What if Everything Rises & Falls on Followership? Coincidentally, this post was written days before my attendance at the International Leadership Association Conference (ILA) in San Diego. Followership was one of the hot topics of the event and I am excited to see leadership being reshaped to embrace the importance, power, responsibility of active followers.

3. Focus: Finding Strategic Clarity. Review three signs that indicate your organization may be suffering from a lack of strategic clarity.

I also want to remind you of one of my first, and personal favorite posts, The Tale of the Orange and the Lemon tree. I jogged by this amazing fruit-laden tree this week and was reminded anew of the richness of this metaphor.

As we anticipate 2015, I look forward to getting to know and work with many of you in the months ahead. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”. King Solomon


 

Jeff SuHead Shotderman is a professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

 

The B-Word: What BUSY really means

I encourage you to evaluate how often you say the word ‘busy’ each day. Over the past year, I have been pondering the meanings of the word busy. It has crept into our vernacular and is so common that we likely do not realize how many times we say or hear the word each day. The problem with this simple word is that it is used as a euphemism. Underneath this four letter B-word, masquerades a definition.

Here are six things that I believe the B-word really means.

1. I cannot prioritize. Therefore, I feel compelled to do everything and that makes me feel busy.

2. I need to feel important. Our culture places a high value on busyness. Therefore, if I tell people that I am busy, it must mean that I am important. Can you feel good about yourself if you are not busy?

3. I cannot say “no”. Of the many demands on my life, I feel compelled to do them all, or at the least, as many as possible.

4. I’m too busy for you. By stating that I am busy, I am really saying that I don’t want to spend time with you.

5. I don’t know how to be still. Keeping busy can be a way of suppressing things that we do not want to deal with (if I’m busy, I don’t have time to think about it). Alternately, sometimes we haven’t learned how to embrace a non-busy environment (our media rich-culture makes it difficult to be undistributed).

The last reason is really a positive use of the B-word, but it still requires you to rethink how you use of it:

6. I really love my life…and my schedule is full of things I love to do. If this is the case, you are in a good place! However, you may want to consider the different ways people interpret your use of the word. Is there a more effective way to express a full life without it being misinterpreted (hint: the body language of a person that uses the phrase to mean they love their lives is very different than the previous reasons!).

As leaders, we need to assess how often we use the word busy. If we use it often, then we need to assess why we use it. When we have schedules full of things that we love to do, we’re not busy. Instead, I believe that we are fulfilled.