Busyness: The Fool’s Badge of Honour (in our opinion!)
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man! Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present: the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.’
This pattern described by the Dalai Lama is one that can be easy to fall into. Success and happiness lie just around the corner (and even when it’s found we may have forgotten what we were hoping for in the first place!).
The symptom of this pattern, we believe, is busyness. Some wear it like a badge of honour: ‘if I’m busy, I have purpose’; ‘If I stay busy, I am delivering value’; ‘If I am busy, I have no time to be disturbed by other things that have real value or meaning’ – even though they know deep down that the number of items ticked off a in a day, along with their step-count data, does not necessarily represent achievement, or happiness. As they fill their days, and their minds, they start to feel like they are in a video game, living life in levels, not stopping to reflect or recharge. They ask many questions, yet have no time (or patience) to hear or understand the answers. They spend so much time chasing solutions that they forget to look directly into the true nature of the problem. They find themselves overcomplicating, over-analysing, and over-thinking. Their impatient mind is frightened by quiet and is easily bored. Their imagination runs wild, yet rarely creatively. Life goes by in a blur but the busy person feels like an onlooker on the sidelines.
At ICC, we don’t subscribe to this way of operating. We take the wins when we see them, however big or small. We reflect on challenges as we experience them, fine-tuning our approach in real-time. We get together for dynamic check-ins, to prioritise and recalibrate, with ‘why does it matter?’ and ‘what’s the point?’ as our filters. We love a ‘what if?’ or ‘and then what?’ to bring creative thinking and risk analysis to the front of the deck. More though, we look to balance our time spent active in the performance zone with time spent in the development zone – where we reflect, learn, grow, breathe, rest and recharge.
But, what we have noticed in our recent day-to-day professional and personal lives is that we are becoming more and more stimulated by communication and virtual connection, serving us up with an overload of information and choice. We appreciate that practical and cognitive methods that used to work for us can no longer keep pace, so we are finding ourselves leaning into a web of digital solutions, apps, and virtual support to create ‘efficiencies’, in order to free-up space on the RAM and hard drive of our human brains.
Alarm bells are ringing. As a result, we have found that we are actually getting more busy as we embrace these ‘efficiencies’. Our experience has been that:
- remaining professionally agile and relevant, if not balanced, starts to coincide with a feeling of being permanently ‘on the go’
- personal responsibilities are constantly advertised to us in real-time and remain live, tempting us to stay consistently high-functioning, with no let-up
The opportunities to learn, to create, and be inspired, surround us. At ICC, we are determined to ensure that we protect these rich opportunities, providing space for our minds to actually stretch and grow.