This, according to a client of mine is the mantra of a local pub manager.
No matter when you ask him, this manager is always ‘busy, busy.’
And usually when he says this, there’s very few customers in the pub
to be looked after and the place is usually in a mess. The service is
slow and nothing that should be looked after is.
The manager is busy alright. But busy doing the wrong things.
Yet while we may laugh at a story such as this, I believe it highlights
the problem of our time. Most of us, without realising it, are busy
doing the wrong things. And at a cost that perhaps isn’t fully
realised in the moment.
If you ask someone you meet ‘How are things?’ the standard
reply is usually ‘Mad busy’, ‘Really busy’ or even ‘Crazy Busy’.
And it’s usually greeted with a response along the lines of ‘Good for
But is it really? Being ‘busy’ has become almost a badge of honour
and is the reality for most people. Yet if we look at things like life
satisfaction and work engagement, the statistics are not encouraging.
And those figures don’t take into account the long term impact on
what matters most to us: having engaging work, good health and
There are positives in our modern world. On one hand technology
is making life easier in so many ways. We can order almost
anything online from our mobile devices. We can communicate
with anyone anywhere on the planet at very low prices or for free.
We can create a business from our bedrooms with just a laptop and
We are getting more done than ever before yet despite these great
advancements, for most people they are enjoying work less than
ever and not getting the time for the things that really matter to
them. People are busier than ever and they are paying too high a
The question to me is busy doing what?
The Challenge Of Our Time
People talk about the challenges of our time being the rise of
terrorism, global warming and the epidemic of obesity in the
western world. With over 24 years of business experience and
over 16 years working with high performing entrepreneurs,
CEOs, executives and their teams, I believe the challenge of
our time is the way we work and live.
Quality of work doesn’t have to compromise quality of life.
Yet for most it does. I think we need to focus our creativity
and problem solving abilities on a question like this:
How can we re-create our work and lives in a way that benefits
our lives as much as our companies?
If we can create the amazing technology that we see today
surely we can create amazing answers to this? Business does
better when the people in it are energised, clear, focused and
balanced. Many companies agree with this statement but very
few really prioritise it in a meaningful way.
We salute entrepreneurs and businesses that achieve great results,
and create amazing technologies. But often ignore the carnage
to people’s lives in the process – their own and the people working
in the companies.
What’s the point in creating a superb profit machine if only a
few people win? The challenge for our future leaders is to create
companies that deliver value to all stakeholders – genuinely.
But too many people have given up. They are on a ‘Ground Hog
Day’ treadmill that seems to be impossible to break. Working
harder than ever, they have sacrificed the one thing that perhaps
they dreamed of originally. More life.
The harsh reality is that most people are living to work. Not
working to live.
This unfortunately is the truth for modern business right now.
Even if you have an award that says you’re an amazing place to
work, that doesn’t always match up with reality – in a way that
really means something to your people.
The World Has Changed
Our world has changed fundamentally since 2000, primarily
due to the explosion of new technology and all of the change
that has brought and enabled. Businesses have had to adapt to
survive and also avail of the opportunities. But most people are
still working the same way they did before 2000.
If we want to create different results in our work and lives,
it makes sense to look at our existing habits. As the great coach
Marshall Goldsmith says ‘What got you here, won’t get you there.’
The challenge for people working in a business is: how do I
deliver my results AND have a great life. What it starts with
is learning new habits.
The End In Mind
One of the key personal effectiveness habits, famously espoused
by Stephen Covey is, ‘Start with the end in mind’.
All great achievements, from India’s liberation by Gandhi to the
U.S.’s mission to put a man on the moon, all started with an end
result in mind. What is yours? What would you like your work
and life to look like? What about your business? Have you
spent some time crafting a personal vision for yourself or are you
like the majority, and are too busy to do it? Or have you just given up?
It is possible to have a superb career, great relationships and great
health. But not if you don’t believe it. There has never been a better
time to find a way to do more of what you love, in a way that
enhances your quality of life. But it does mean looking at developing
Skills Of The Future
The key skills of the future are rooted in understanding how we work.
Which ultimately means understanding our minds more. Two key
skills I would flag are:
- The ability to have a clear mind in a world that is increasingly
- The ability to see your life and career as you want and then work
consistently to make it happen.
The best businesses put a huge value on their employee’s minds. That’s
why they now say the biggest asset they have are the minds of their
people. Out of these minds comes ideas, creativity, innovation and
the ability to make the impossible happen.
But are you using that same ability to improve your own life and career?
Or are you just too busy like everyone else…?
Shane Cradock is hosting a public talk titled
‘Thrive: How To Do It In A World That’s Changing Faster Than Ever’
on Thursday 23rd June 2016, Dublin City, from 7pm to 8.30pm.
Details and booking here.