The Blog

#Busy and our need to #slowdown so we can be present with #people

I must confess, I have been working in the public and private sectors focused on Information and Technology for 28 years this June “2011” and I can’t remember when “Busy” started.  What is “Busy”? Busy shows up in the following ways, “I am too busy doing x and y, we just can’t take that on right now” , “If we need to start that we need to stop something” and “that will have to wait”.

I am concerned about our busyness.  Why do we run to the next thing and not focus on the people around us.

Let me throw out some ideas !

First, we live in a world of VUCA, volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.  We personally control very little any more, or worlds and lives are complex whether you are a boomer +, a boomer [like me ;) ] a Gen X or Y or even a millennial.  We have parents, grandparents, spouses, partners, children and grandchildren – some of us have great-grand children.  Debt is rising, Oil is soaring, China and India are the major world markets, there is continued unrest in the middle-east, Canada has a new majority government ( circa 2011) and no one knows where the economy is going.  On top of all of that, Microsoft just bought Skype, what is Google’s next move?

So how do we prepare for the next disruption, project or activity?

I want to encourage us all to stop using “I am/ We are – Too busy as our default”

So lets consider “What if”

What if instead of saying, too busy we said, I clearly see this as a priority, how can I show up in a way that allows me to consider my work and activity in order to adjust my work to address what is clearly a new priority.  Can we start having “and” conversations and stop the “or” conversations.

All I am asking is for us to ask ourselves the question “What if”.

Next time you are in a meeting or conversation and someone says “We need to do this, address this, start this or that” stop and say to yourself “What if”, what if I say “This is clearly a new priority, what can we do to move in this direction”.  What can I do to show up in a way to support this need?

All I am asking is for you to ask “What if” – It is your choice to follow that with actions.

Now let’s spend a few minutes thinking about slowing down.  At the end of the day, week, month or year – your career or your life, what do you want to have accomplished.  Are you so busy that the people around you have to flex and adjust to you?  Here are some ideas to help you slow down, to consider doing things differently for your health and the health of those around you.

1)   When was the last time you told your partner/spouse that you loved them.  Well you need to mean it and be sincere!  You need to tell them, they cannot read your mind, you have to be intentional, purposeful and complete.  Going beyond simply words, why not do something that shows you love them, take the dog for a walk, make breakfast, take out the garbage, wash their car….. the list goes one.

2)   Have you called your mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, son daughter etc….  It is very simple, pick up the phone, have some idea what you want to talk about, ask them what is new, ask them how they are doing.  You can also ask them what they are looking forward to, be an active and generous listener, don’t just talk, blah, blah blah, be present and listen to THEM.


Now what about the people you work with.

Sometime ago I had an opportunity to reflect on my “work” and the people I work with, here are some observations from “work life”;

3)   We all get so many emails, instead of just replying all or replying why not call the person on the phone or better yet, if you can, drop into their office and talk to them in person.  Remember back in the day before computers, four part memos and email we actually spoke to each other face to face, try it, it feel awkward but it is REAL.

4)   Try something I really enjoy – Sending Cards.  Many years ago I wrote a blog post about the lost art of Letter Writing.  I must say, I have not printed anything in the office for the last 2 years, so when I use paper and pen it is strategic and purposeful.  Buy a card and write a letter, or just grab a piece of paper out of the multi function printer and write someone a letter.  I write cards, personal and in my own handwriting ( as messy as it is ) to let people know that I care about them deeply.  I send Thank You notes, Welcome Notes, note of congratulations and notes of sympathy.  It only takes a few moments, and our organizations still have an internal mail service so it gets quickly delivered.  Try it, you will make someone’s day.

5)   So often when the people around us do incredible things we just let them slip by, why do we not stop and recognize them.  My desire is to do this, recognizing people in person on a daily basis, you need to be looking for it, and seize the moment or it will be gone.  Recently one of the Directors I work with took on a corporate responsibility where he collected opportunities for cost savings and avoidance from the IT Branch in preparation for the 2012 corporate budget.  No one told him to “Do it” he just decided, he sent out an email to all 300+ IT staff asking for ideas and suggestions.  He consolidated the info and sent it on to the corporate group.  He kept me and his peers up to date, in short he took the Nike approach “Just Do it” and got it done.  He was not looking for any applause or thanks he just knew it needed to be done.  I sat down with him recently and thanked him for taking initiative and being a leader, he then thanked me for supporting him and creating an environment where he could just step out an do what he did.  What this Director did my friends is “leadership”.

6)   On a related note lets talk about “feedback”, too often we do not provide feedback to people, we don’t want to hurt them or make their life more complicated than it already is.  Why not try what I do, ask for permission.  This work for the people who work for you, the people you work with and the people you work for.  Just ask them a simple question, “Can I give you some feedback….”  People always say yes to me, so try it, just be ready to give feedback, be supportive, functional and professional.
So slowing down and taking time is not just about saying know, it is about taking time for people, answering their emails in person, sending them a note of thanks and encouraging them.   The people around us are the greatest gift we have, why do we so often isolate ourselves and not spend time with them.

Get out there.

Be with people.


Understand your shifting priorities and spend time slowing down.



Life is short, don’t regret your time !