NOTE: I started writing this blog in February 2020. It is now April 2020, and so much has changed… but even though I am now sheltering in place away from my office and my team, the message still rings true. So I decided to finish it. Here’s how my “business” got me in trouble.
While reading this article on body language, I found myself stuck on a particular sentence, reading it over and over again:
If I’m always rushing in and out of the office, talking on the phone or checking email, my team members will perceive me as inaccessible to them.
So many times while starting different companies, I have found myself running around planning, taking care of projects, and getting things done as fast as possible, almost as if the word “business” actually meant “busyness.” Reflecting back, I think I missed out on so many opportunities for mentorship, feedback, and authentic connection because I was always rushing.
Recognizing this pattern, I decided to make a change. Instead of holing up in my office to write this post, I chose to get up, leave my dedicated office, and move into an open coworking open area near the front of the building.
Now, I am typing these words with a smile, just from soaking up the inspiration and energy of my fellow coworkers. I find the words coming more easily than before.
Here’s another example. While working on an ABP project recently, I told V, our Vice President of GSD (Getting Stuff Done), “Just create a post so we can hire a freelancer to do that.” The next time I spoke with her, though, V seemed sad. When I asked why, I discovered that, in my hastiness to get the project completed, I had not shared with her the reason we wanted a freelancer for that particular portion of the project. As a result, V thought she had not done a good job on her last project. She thought I was hiring a freelancer to replace her. So, she was sad and concerned for her job.
Once I realized what had happened, I quickly set the record straight. I needed her unique skills for four other ongoing and upcoming projects, particularly her ability to read my mind and intervene with other vendors on my behalf. That skill was the one that I needed her focused on, not her amazing graphic design skills.
By rushing to coordinate and get things done, I’d unintentionally communicated something I hadn’t meant at all. I could have even lost an incredibly valuable team member with skills I have literally never found in another person before. Had I simply taken the time to share my thoughts with her, rather than rushing from project to project, we could have avoided the whole misunderstanding.
As a result, we now make time every week to ensure we are on the same page in all possible areas. I see this weekly time as a massively important investment in my success and the success of my business. I know I will never be able to hire or replace V’s knowledge and experience. She has been right by my side, reading my mind, and helping me get stuff done for years, and, because I rushed, I came close to losing a person who helps make my business work like a dream.
I sometimes wish I had a V at home to remind me to slow down there, too. It is not just busyness at work that makes us inaccessible to the people around us; many of us bring that feeling of constant urgency home from work, too. When we walk in the door without shutting off, we carry the day’s anxiety into our homes. Everyone else in the house, especially children, will both feel it and want to avoid it. Every relationship in the home will be impacted.
Connecting with others is so much more beneficial than just being “busy,” but for connection to happen, we have to break the “busy cycle. ” We must learn to be present, to engage with meaningful work, and remind ourselves that we truly are all in this together.
With so many of us working from home right now, you, your company, or your team may be struggling to remain productive and find work-life alignment. If that’s the case, I’d love to share some simple ways to stay sane and to break the “busy cycle.”
Schedule a time to chat with me directly. I promise I’m not too busy.