Busyness, Feeling and Value

Tom GibbonsChange, Leadership, PresenceLeave a Comment

I was recently talking to a person who works in Organization Development in a large multinational organization who was considering becoming accredited to use our products.  He was looking at our schedule of public workshops and indicated he likely would be able to attend the June 2011 session since he was booked up until May.

I am a member of Michael Watkins LinkedIn group The First 90 Days – http://linkd.in/9199Gj – and there was a recent discussion about work-life balance and Michael points out the following which I too think is reality – “While I am sympathetic to the calls for work-life balance, the reality is that few high-commitment jobs really offer much scope to have a life outside of work”.

Our last post The Language of Value talked about the unconscious use of language to position ourselves as ‘more than’ and others as ‘less than’ so we feel ourselves as valuable which is a very basic human need.  The examples above are two of countless seen everyday of another way we try to feel ourselves as valuable; by being busy.  This dynamic seems to be mostly unconscious as well; illustrated by that gnawing visceral feeling of guilt we feel when we don’t have a day filled with things to do.  Or how subtlety good we feel when we tell a colleague we had to work the weekend or late into the night.

The point is not the rightness or wrongness of this dynamic, but the unconsciousness of it.  We rarely even consider the feeling of being busy, and our thinking about being busy rarely alters the dynamic.

And it’s not hard to keep busy if the purpose of that busyness is in the service of certainty.  This was discussed in our post The Tyranny of Certainty.  Not only do we do so much in the service of certainty, but its futility keeps us busy dealing with the fallout as well.

Many of the patterns of interactions in our civilized society today to help us feel valuable have become unconscious.  To try to alter these patterns at an individual level is extremely challenging.  Often that means trying to ‘fix yourself’ and yet once fixed you will go out into the world of those existing unconscious patterns of interaction and feel tremendous pressure to become part of that pattern again.  To feel valuable by making others ‘less than’ and to be so wonderfully busy.

Perhaps though, you could have one interaction with someone today that focused on accepting at least some level of uncertainty and not trying to ‘busy’ it away.  And possibly another interaction where your language made someone else feel ‘equal to’.  And maybe even another about the feeling of being busy and why it feels that way.

It’s not easy.  As I wrote this I was in an email exchange with a client that I’ve needed to talk to for 3 weeks.  I can now be ‘fit in’ at 1:30 for 15 minutes.  I don’t think she’ll be one of those different interactions today, but perhaps writing this and you reading it, is.

Author – Tom

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