The world has gone ‘busyness mad’!
Recently I was asked to deliver some training in London. I arrived at St Pancras and dutifully followed the signs for the yellow train, descending into the Victorian underground to await my carriage. I was idling track-side when there was a tannoy announcement along the lines of “please accept our humble apologies but there’s a severe delay on the yellow line”. The regular London crowd went berserk. This ‘severe delay’ was causing them some severe stress. I approached a guy with a London Underground uniform and asked him how long the delay was. He looked ashen faced, delivering the news as though one of my relatives had died. “Seven minutes sir. I’m so sorry.” He was choked with emotion.
This blog is an interruption to your busyness. And, yes, I know you haven’t got time to to read it! And I know you’re skimming it to the point that you missed that there were two ‘tos’ in the previous sentence.
Some people are so busy that they’ve erased themselves from their lives. Your routine is more important than you! I spoke about the busyness epidemic at a conference recently and an exasperated, non-ironic voice shouted from the audience, “I haven’t got time to slow down!”
And that’s my point, exactly! Busyness has got a grip of us to the point that we’re not immersed in life, we’re skimming the surface of it. At work, most people no longer have a ‘job for life’, just a ‘job for the life of the project’. That leaves a permanent undercurrent of uncertainty. There will be a re-structure coming soon. Work is squeezing you. Guaranteed, your boss will be saying “Here are more tasks. We’re not taking any of the old ones away, but we’d like you to do these fresh ones too.” Nice one!
You might need to brace yourself for this next bit. It’s probably best to sit down or, if you’re reading this on the Tube, hold on to the person next to you. I’ve already suggested that most people I know are driven by ‘busyness’. Even children are manic nowadays, their days, weekends and evenings crowded out by social and electronic media.
So here’s a controversial thought…
What if our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness?
What if our ‘busyness’ serves as a kind of existential reassurance – obviously your life cannot possibly be silly, trivial or meaningless if you are so ridiculously busy, completely booked up and in demand every hour of the day?
I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t actually matter? I’m not having a dig at you, I’m merely trying to provoke a thought. And if I am accidentally having a dig, I’m having a dig at me too!
Here it is in a nutshell; what if we’ve become superb at masquerading as ‘busy’ to paper over the cracks of meaninglessness?
I think this is, at the very least, an interesting thought and, at very best, an earth-shattering realization.
I describe our new book, Be Brilliant Every Day, as a user manual for the human being. It won’t make the busyness go away. It’s a bit like hitting ‘control-alt-delete’. Reboot and everything works better!
Enjoy! A x