If You Have To Brag About How Busy You Are...
I’m so busy. I’ve got a ton going on. I don’t have the time.
We hear (and say) these phrases regularly, and to little surprise, given all that we might have on our plate at any given time.
In most ways, of course, it’s good to be busy. To experience the buzz you get when things at work are humming along, when you’re in full flow and driving towards whatever goals you’re working towards.
The flip side, though, is when we feel as if we have to be this way all the time - and worse, to show it, and constantly say it.
We see this manifested at work in different ways: Face time. Furious typing. Frowned looks. Furrowed brows. Socialized guilt in leaving at a “normal” time. And God forbid you be caught staring out the window in deep thought. You can’t have that much going on then, could you?
This thinking tends to be driven by cultures that glorify the struggle above all else. As if you’re less of a person if you’re not sacrificing your life in pursuit of the economic goal at all times. As if “work smarter” and “work harder” are the same thing.
This thinking is embedded since we’re young. I remember, in my first year of Business School, meeting a guy who’d worked as an Analyst at one of the big consulting firms. I remember him talking about his experience in glowing terms, and his standout comment was the number of hours he worked on a very regular basis. There was an actual glint in his eye as he talked about the 100+ hour weeks and how frequently those weeks occurred.
This wasn’t an isolated instance. I heard it again during my own consulting experiences, and then again, on my entrepreneurial journey, from different sources. (Yes, I may even have exhibited some of this thinking at times.)
(More often than not, this thinking is also typically accompanied by an explicit or implicit belittling, not simply of those who don’t work as hard as you/us, but also of those who might actually have the nerve to expect to have a life outside of work. The funniest (saddest?) thing is when you see two people actually debating who sacrifices more on a more consistent basis and has as little of a life in the process. Yes, I have actually seen this, the corporate equivalent of comparing the size of their dicks…..)
This is a bullshit culture, and it’s one that the more progressive among us are seeing through and actively working to avoid. It’s a recognition that, as employees, we are actually multi-faceted, that we all have a role to play and that our total lives contribute to what we do.
I’m not suggesting that hard work isn’t necessary, or that there are time periods (sometimes frequent) when we don’t have to make material personal sacrifices to get things done. That’s part and parcel of going after a mission, of believing in something worth striving for.
It’s just that the ongoing glorification of the “super busy” culture suggests something about that culture. And it’s not what those folks think it is.