Happiness not busy-ness

Happiness not busy-ness

I recently read an article from the Harvard Business Review library titled “Beware the Busy Manager”. Among other things, the article noted that in many companies only 10% of managers actually move the company forward. It then claimed that although the rest might look busy, they’re probably just spinning their wheels (i.e. moving fast but not necessarily forward).

Despite the fact most managers and executives claim the resource they lack most is time, if you observe them carefully you’ll often find them rushing around, constantly checking emails, putting out spot fires here there and everywhere, and making endless phone calls. Now there’s no doubt that these important people work under incredible pressure and have much to do each and every day but if their behaviour is carefully analysed what one will often see is a significant amount of busy-ness and activity with little or no time spent on reflection.

Using the terminology of Stephen Covey, author of the best selling “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, these managers probably spend too much on seemingly “urgent” activities at the expense of what are really “important” activities.

But it’s worth noting that not all managers get stuck in this “being busy” trap. According to the Harvard Business Review the 10% or so who are moving the company forward can be referred to as “purposeful managers” and it’s these people who make the seemingly impossible happen.

How? Well they achieve this by living and breathing two key elements – (1) focus and (2) energy – both of which are necessary. Focus comes from concentrated attention. Focused managers know exactly what’s important and they protect against distractions from this at all costs. Energy comes from an intense personal commitment to doing what’s right and what’s important. It’s this energy that drives performance and makes things happen.

But before I go on, I want to emphasise that this is not just relevant within the context of management or organisations; I’ve no doubt that we could all learn much from this that would help us in our personal lives. One of the key constructs within all our coaching programs, workshops and seminars, for example, is finding your life purpose and direction (in very practical terms, clarifying life goals). Further, I’ve no doubt that those who’re clearer about their purpose and direction and those who’re more able to stay focused, find they have more energy to do what they want to do and therefore, tend to be happier and more successful.

So make a promise to yourself this Sunday to set aside some time, either on your own or with your partner, and answer the following questions:

– What are you really passionate about?

– What’s most meaningful to or for you?

– For what would you like to be known?

– How would you most like to be remembered?

– What would you like your legacy to be?

If you can answer these questions you’ll be well on the way to clarifying your purpose and to determining what your priorities are – once you’ve achieved this, you’ll be much more likely to live a purposeful life as opposed to just a busy one.