Too many times we answer the question. “Yes all good, busy. Very busy”. We are unknowingly on autopilot. We react in the same way to the same question because it’s the easiest way to describe our lives in a single word. Although being “busy” is a nice way to kill small talk conversation, it does however leave the enquirer feeling as though you are disinterested, uninspired and non-progressive.
If we were dead honest, even doing nothing is being busy. Busy doing nothing! My friends, my clients, my candidates and the market in general are all excited about 2016. We have seen a rapid increase in activity on the legal front, not to mention Facebook events, social fitness classes and more and more markets. We need to hop on the bus and get stuck in, but instead of changing your whole life, starting a revolutionary eating plan or quitting work to find your dream job, I challenge you to change the meagre word already mentioned.
I want you to replace the word “busy”, with “productive”. Now answer the question again. Is it true or not? Well it doesn’t matter at this stage because you have already achieved a few key steps in moving from good to great:
- You left the enquirer feeling intrigued, inspired, potentially slightly envious but hopefully, mostly excited.
- You have just committed that what you have been up to has moved you forward, either explicitly or implicitly. If you feel you did not achieve anything significant, you can at least look back and learn to improve on how you spent your time. See, “productive”!
- You have just committed to what you are going to do in the future! As in the next hour, day, week and month. Once you say something out loud, to a friend or even better, a complete stranger, you will be much more likely to follow through. Ego right?
- You have replaced a word containing vague meaning with a positive, specific and literal word that will lead to more questions from the enquirer.
- Due to point 4 above, you have turned small talk into a networking opportunity. If the enquirer is a little on the boring side, you are at least excited having reflected on the meaning of being productive and how your life is moving forward, inch by inch.
Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” has studied numerous organisations, their leaders, mind-sets, cultures and structures. I will spare the details (which are fascinating by the way) and point out that the companies who turned themselves around from being average to sustainably phenomenal, were the ones who were genuinely and consistently productive. They pushed on the flywheel, bit by bit, every day. There were no huge projects, acquisitions or leader-hires, it all came down to choosing a sensible direction and applying forward pressure to the fly-wheel of their business. The fly-wheel being the word used to describe their end-to-end business concept.
I challenge you to start pushing on your fly-wheel, starting off by being productive. Replace the language, the mind-set will follow and best of all, people that also want to push their fly-wheel will be there for you. An added bonus is that the laggards will become disinterested and get out of your way as you forge on towards greatness.
Try it from now, and you can let me know if I’m wrong?