I hear this word being used everywhere. Every time I step outside my home or even when I talk to someone on the phone I hear this word busy. Actually, the most common word I hear people use right now is busy.
So for the last few weeks I’ve actually been pondering, well what does that mean? Why is busy the word that we choose to use most, because it seems to be the answer to every question.
How’s work? Busy. How’s the kids? Busy. How’s traffic? Busy. How is the coffee shop? Busy.
And with all the work I’ve been doing on connection recently, I’ve sat and pondered what this actually means, because we’re using busy in so many different ways but what is it actually meaning? And why are we using this word to mean so many different things?
So when I say busy to my boss, am I really saying, “Don’t give me anymore work. I can’t handle anymore.”
When I say busy to friends that I’m talking to, does that mean, “Please don’t ask me to go anywhere because my plate is so full.”
When I say busy, do I sometimes mean that my brain is so full of all the information, it’s almost like my phone when I go to take that photo, and I get the message saying, “Storage full.” Or I have to delete something before I can actually add anything else in. Because I have to admit sitting and thinking about when leaders, and colleagues, and friends, and all these people saying, “busy,” as a human I was like, “Oh, this isn’t very nice. Everyone’s too busy to spend anytime with me, to talk to me, to give me any of their attention and time.”
And then I thought about it and you know what I actually think, it’s not that at all. I think as humans, we’re actually feeling overwhelmed, and we’re not quite sure how to say it. We’re not quite sure how to say to our boss, “I actually can’t take on anymore now.” We’re not quite sure how to say to our friends, “I’m sort of overwhelmed right now with everything I’m already committed to.” We’re using this word busy because we don’t know how to do a couple of really key things.
We don’t know how to, 1. Ask for help and be okay asking for help. And 2. We don’t know how to say no.
So we use this word busy because then we actually feel better about saying that. That’s actually less vulnerable than actually saying to my boss, to my team, to my family, to my friends, to anyone I interact with, “Right now I’m struggling.”
But here’s the danger, the danger in using this word, which everyone uses. You know, look around and listen today about how many people use that word. The danger is, we’re never really connecting. Because the moment I say, “Oh, I need some help,” or “Actually things have been really tough,” or “Oh, you know, there’s so much going on right now, I don’t know where to start.” When we say those words, when we actually open up and be really honest with ourselves and those around us, we start to truly connect. Because what we’ve actually done is we’ve actually put down the shield, that armor that we have on that we hold so close, we’ve put it down, and we went, “Actually, this is what’s going on.”
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a leader, or you’re a team member, or your a friend, or your a family member, connection is where things really happen. Connection is where we actually band together, because it’s in our DNA if someone says, “I’m struggling,” we say, “How can I help?”
So think about when we’re saying busy, and it’s not to stop using the word. But I really want you to ask yourself today, when I say busy, what do I really mean? What am I trying to say that I’m not saying? And are the people around me going to hear what I’m not saying, if I’m always saying busy? So don’t do what I did and get upset with people who use the word busy, but actually look within and go, what am I trying to say? What am I trying to say that I’m not, and what do I need to say today?
If I’m a leader, what do I need to say to my team to connect, and be real, and be honest? Cause there’s nothing in the leadership bible that says don’t be honest. But we’ve created this unwritten rule that once I become a leader I must at all times look like a swan. Yeah, it’s a horrible analogy that we’ve taken on. I must look very, very graceful and my feet go crazy underneath. But we’re actually distorting reality. And we’re actually stopping opportunities for people to connect with us and for us to connect with our people.
So, if you want to be a leader that connects with your people, the first thing I urge you to do is think about every time you say the word busy, what are you really trying to say, and say it. And when you hear your team say they’re busy, ask the question and find out what they’re actually trying to say. Because there are days when I know myself or people around me are screaming inside for help and all that we say is we’re busy. So maybe its time to stop saying we’re busy and start really connecting and being honest.