" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

October 26, 2010

I'm too busy for my Success

 Cowboys are busy too.

In the last two weeks I had some work that involved talking to five small businesses in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland to write about a specific aspect of their businesses. You can find out a lot about a business by talking to the person in charge of it and mostly what you find out about is their ATTITUDE.

Just from talking to one person, I could tell whether I would ever talk to them or I would, on the sole basis of how they were on the phone, forgettabout'em;. All of them were either owners or managers.

One of the businesses has been doing business at the same location on South Granville for 27 years. It's run by a woman. I'm sure she's busy. She has had lots of publicity. At this point she could be like, ya, whatever, I don't need to talk to you because I don't need any more publicity. Everyone who lives in Vancouver knows about me. Instead, she took the time to talk to me and made sure everything was explained properly. She followed up quickly. When it was over she thanked me and told me that she was excited that her company would be receiving notice on the web site where it would be. She invited me to introduce myself the next time I was in Vancouver. Total professionalism.

Contrast that to someone who was "too busy","couldn't really talk, you've got me at a bad time but didn't have the ability to just come right out and say "No, I'm sorry, I can't do this right now, please get back to me at some other time in a month or so." That would have been fine. Just say No and stick to it. I could have moved on. I wouldn't have wasted my time, the time, he apparently thinks is completely valueless compared to his.

Instead, he rushed through everything, and as a result, what I ended up writing, he wasn't happy with but he didn't get back to me for more than a week. Didn't respond to e-mails. When he finally did get back to me he just kept saying, I'm too busy, I can't get to this, there's a lot of inaccuracies. No shit, I thought. You barely could talk to me without saying, busy, busy busy instead of focusing on the details.

I refrained from saying to him. You agreed to do this. I am depending on making money from this. If you couldn't follow through you should have said NO, I can't do it!

It was just a really good lesson. First of all, saying you're too busy, and continuing to say that and doing a lousy job on something is not how you want to be doing business. Saying you're too busy, in a world where everyone is too busy, is just lame. It makes you sound like you have a fragile ego that somehow needs the world to know that you're so important because you're too busy or that you are completely unable to set boundaries for yourself.

Now, I'm not saying that there aren't people who are over the top busy. But, you know what? I'm guessing, based on what I've witnessed, that those people are rarely the ones that use "busy" as an excuse.  They know how to manage a workload, set priorities, establish clear boundaries and quietly manage to negotiate changes if they aren't able to meet a deadline.

Someone I follow on Twitter said what I've been thinking for a few days since that interaction. Her Tweet said,  "I declare a moratorium on the word busy. Everyone's busy, we get it. Busy is default status. Let us know if it changes."  Her name is Holly MacDonald and her blog is Spark + Co.

Think about that the next time the knee-jerk, "I'm too busy," is about to come out of your mouth and make you look less than you are.

and PS: In case you think everyone on Salt Spring is just sittin' around. It's not true. It's true for those you see sitting around day in and day out staring out the windows at coffee shops but in general, it's so far from the truth.


harriet glynn said...

I'm never too busy to commenyt on your wonderful blog ;) I agree. Just don't even say it people. I'm busy is the equivalent of I'm tired. No on cares!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Harriet. Likewise, I'm never SO busy that I can't stop and look to see where Theo (via your blog) is running. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Harriet. This is a great post and is really so true. It was a good reminder especially to me as a business owner who sometimes feels too busy and treats people that way. You reminded how bad that is as it demonstrates a total lack of respect for other people's time and talent.

I worked for many years in a non profit where people never returned your emails because everyone was too busy. It is why I quit. I drove me nuts.

Once again thanks for the reminder. I will strive to always be honest about my time restraints and respectful about follow through.

Great blog by the way!