Texas Hill reverse

I’m So Busy

Ask anyone how they are doing, and often without a moment's hesitation most will reply, "I am so busy." Busy has become the new "fine" in regards to casual responses in human interaction. Our business and professional lives are often defined by how many activities can be scheduled on the calendar, and being busy has become the desired state to prove success. Busy has become a faux badge of honor, and to many people it has become a measurement of their self-worth. To be able to show the world that you are busy is internally a way to justify our daily lives, our contributions, and to find a place of stature in society.
But is busy better? And has it become a socially acceptable catch-all excuse to get out of doing any other activity that we deem less important? Can people question "busy"?

Recently a friend told me she stopped attending all networking events and industry conferences because she is "too busy serving her clients." She bragged about how much work she has to do, the insinuation being that those who do have the time to attend things are not as successful as she is. This friend has never been a fan of the social side of business networking and has always looked for ways to avoid those types of events, so I am not sure that her reasons for skipping conferences are honestly about her schedule. I think she prefers not to attend them, which is her right and her choice, but education and networking are both important in her industry. I believe she is hiding behind "busy," as many of us are tempted to do. It has become the most acceptable excuse in America.

Another friend canceled at the last minute for coffee recently. His excuse? "I am too busy." The reality is that he chose other activities over meeting with me (which, again, is fine). But to say that would be socially awkward, thus the "busy" word is tossed around since everyone knows it cannot be questioned. His more pressing matters must be taken at face value.

Call up any friend, relative, or business contact and ask them, "How's life?" and you will most likely hear a laundry list of what is making them busy. A vendor who fails to return a call in a timely manner will apologize, but review their state of business (as if it clears them of their oversight). Spouses come home from work and compete to share who had the most stress at that day or whose calendar was the most full.

I am guilty of this, too. The meetings industry brings with it hard deadlines for all who serve this industry, and there is no room to miss a delivery target or fail to show up at an event. It is easy to get sucked into the vortex of busy. Because my travel schedule can take me away from home for days at a time, between balancing my to-do list and family obligations, it leaves little room for other activities. But I rarely try to let that keep me from doing the things I have promised. I only put things on my calendar if I am committed to showing up. Writing this monthly article is one example. I often have lots going on, but the MPI Texas Hill Country Chapter newsletter is a priority, and I have not missed an issue in over a year of writing this column. (Do I turn it in late sometimes? Yep.)

Meeting professionals are busy, but do we want to be known as the ones who are always putting out fires and playing catch up? How we present ourselves is a choice. A better response to "How's life?" might be "I am very fortunate," or "All is good." From there you can talk about your schedule, if appropriate, but it does not make "busy" the focal point.

I challenge you to not lead with "busy." Yes, you have a lot to do, but do not further this problem of making a full calendar the be-all-end-all.

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst," a speaker who mixes meaningful content with a high energy presentation style that results in audiences gaining new knowledge and taking action on what they have learned. Thom is also the host of the "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" podcast. He can be reached through www.ThomSinger.com or (512) 970-0398.



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