Most of my life I've taken busy to another level - I was always busy doing something; meeting someone, delivering huge volumes and getting stuff done. And then one day I learned to meditate and things all changed for me.
In fact, there is an old Zen saying that you may have heard -
While it might sound a bit woo woo - the funny thing is that it works! Meditation helps you focus on what's important. It helps you remain clear and calm and less distracted. It actually helps you get more done, without the clutter of busyness.
But this is not an article on meditation (although I highly recommend the practice). It's a reflection on the principle of busyness, where it might come from and how "brand busy" may be the very thing stopping you from achieving all you want to achieve.
Where might your busyness brand come from?
Brand Busy is really hard to ditch especially when you've worn it as a badge of honour for most of your working life. Plus our modern society seems to venerate it so much so that there is another saying - if you need something done, give it to a busy person.
There is an upside - recent research tells us that being busy makes us feel happier and more content at work. It tells us that if we keep our staff"busy" they don't procrastinate as much because it breaks down big work into smaller more doable chunks.
But what this recent research doesn't tell us is - did being busy actually help us achieve our big, hairy, ambitious career goals (BHAGs)? What actually happened to the busy person? What does the busy person get in return for being the busy person? Maybe they are happy, but maybe too they'll simply get landed with more (distracting) work - and run the risk of developing a reputation for being a work-horse - rather than moving into a leadership role.
It's not specifically a gender issue - although you may have read that while the male brain is said to be about 10% larger, women dip into more areas to solve the same problem (i.e. busy brain). Women are also said to multitask more (aka busy brain again) and collaborate more (also a less direct tactic requiring a more busy approach).
It's definitely a societal issue. Our expectations of ourselves, our kids and our quality of life are pretty intimidating - perfect house, perfect kids, perfect car, plus you need to wear yourself out at the gym to #lookgoodnaked! And I guess if you can't be perfect, then you need to look busy so that you have an excuse for not achieving your perfect dream.
Maybe however, you are using busyness as a shield to hide behind - to disguise a possible lack of expertise or imposter syndrome, like you're about to be caught out. Or perhaps you over deliver on quantity to disguise a lack of quality in output - when one or two results might deliver far more impact.
Eight signs that you've fine tuned your busy personal brand and that it might be getting in the way
- You're that work-horse they give all the extra work to - because they know you'll get it done (by the way, you've just made yourself indispensable in your current role - so why would anyone consider you for anything else?),
- When you take a call and someone asks how you are and you reply "busy as" and then proceed to complain about the huge volume of work you're doing, how exhausted and overworked you are, or boast about all the various irons you have in the fire at the moment - with the irony being that less time talking about how busy you are, might prove to be more effective,
- When someone nominates you for an Award or a speaking opportunity but you're simply "too busy" doing busy work to actually follow through and do anything about it,
- You're also far too busy to even begin to apply for that exciting new promotion opportunity you heard about on the weekend,
- When you get to the end of the week and haven't achieved "the #1 thing that's going to move the dial on your career today" - all week
- When you brag about how busy you are to your friends or colleagues as though it's a actually a good thing, because there are no other substantive wins in your role that you can really brag about,
- When you get to the end of the day looking like you've been dragged through a bush backwards, and all you've done is wrestle your diary, your project deadlines and your bosses expectations, and haven't taken any "down time",
- When your colleague, who always looks calm, serene and perfectly professional (and by the way, never ever looks busy), lands a promotion that you hadn't even heard about.
What to do? Let go
Last month you would have read about the need to let go
- Letting go of the need to do it all,
- Letting go of the need for others approval (to be liked),
- Letting go of the need to do things perfectly, rigorously, thoroughly,
- Letting of the need to know everything,
- Letting go of the need to be right,
- Letting go of the need to be in control.
Then take a break and see what actually happens.
- Maybe those super critical deadlines might morph and change all on their own without you spending hours exhausting yourself by worrying about them.
- Maybe that overwhelming appointment clash that needed to be managed will work itself out in the wash.
- Maybe even those critical action items might not need micromanaging at all because your new VA is super talented in his or her own right, and will relish the opportunity for more responsibility.
When we can simply let go of performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving, we will ultimately feel far more confident, capable and worthy of the leadership roles and opportunities that come our way. When we let go of the need, we are far more powerful because we focus on what's effective rather than being (or looking) busy.
Win the trifecta
Remember, my goal is that you win the feminine ambition trifecta - you are paid well, feel like you are being heard and that you get to make a really big difference in your role. And being busy may not only side track you and wear you out, but undermine almost all your best attempts.
Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes
Liked this article? Try another! Comments and shares most welcome
- The Curse of Likeabilty - and what you can do about it
- The Cost of Perfectionism
- The Myth of Working Hard and How it Keeps You Playing Small
• I work one on one with smart 'n savvy women to keep them agile, ambitious and focused on making a difference.
• I work with organisations who are working on empowering women into leadership roles.
• My book Step Up, Speak Out & Take Charge is due out mid 2016.
Curious about how I can help you in 2016? Pop me an email