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“Too busy” is a Diagnosis

A letter I wrote today to a colleague who had been working with me, and a few higher level executives at his large-ish software company, to inaugurate a new connection between me and them. I had earlier done some quite successful work for them, and we became acquainted and were all enthused for our relationship/s.

Dear (Friend and colleague)

Maybe I lost some emails. Maybe the guys never received mine. If so, or if something similar has transpired, I will happily and humbly stand corrected.  I know, for example that terrible and awesome things are happening in various parts of the world.

BUT: It feels like you guys are “too busy” for me.

In my world, “too busy” is not an authentic problem, but a diagnosis. Typically “too busy”  is a kind of chronological dysmorphia, characterized by an intransigent and committed but false belief that there is an unending raging time famine. In actuality, there are only one’s cascading and expanding poor choices, most especially one’s maladroit prioritization.

Of course, people do fuck up, mail doesn’t get read, and we become overworked or distracted for short periods while we right ourselves.  However, if the period is long, and our distractedness is acceptable in the environment, it is an organizational ailment of some significance.

I am going to guess that the situation in your company, is a broad and even systemic problem. In this case,(one exec guy), repeatedly, and (another exec guy) at least once, have both crossed the line from harried to uncivil and even rude. My direct, vulnerable and open pursuit of relationships with them has been at their invitation and/or encouragement, which is why I feel entitled to routine, simple and at least civil responses from them at my attempts to connect with them as they suggested they wanted.

While I routinely accept people not wanting to become closer with me, I don’t enjoy encounters with time psychosis (though I do know how to eliminate the malady) and I do no one any favors – least of all my good friend, you- by not pointing out the apparent severity here: when kind, smart, creative dynamic guys – executive leaders with broad responsibilities and a clear obligation to model high levels of functionality, lose all sense of boundary and grace – when they sacrifice personal excellence because they have an unhealthy relationship with their own time and life, and they share a delusion about the efficacy and acceptability of being “so busy”, things are, quite simply unwell. If it has infected a small thing, like a new friendship, it is likely feasting gluttonously on bigger.

If we wanted to, this is typical of the malignancies we could address together here, and remediate throughout the organization, without too much trouble (done it before), so that there would always be appropriate and sufficient time for innovation,engineering greatness, and even world leadership. To say nothing of health and joy.

To pursue, or cause others to pursue various other lesser measures aimed primarily at effective use of time with others – such as Agile, or what have you – while leaving the reign of this “endorsed by authority” malaise,is, quite simply, absurd and most likely doomed.

So, my friend, this is my take. I hate to see you inbetweenesque. I would be quite interested in your professional opinion of “too busy” at your company. No need to apologize or defend, not interested in that. Nor do I require any such thing fromthe other guys. Happy to be wrong. If talking works, my skype is warm.

I am here to help and befriend.

Love,

Jim

NOTE  Michele McCarthy coined the phrase, “too busy” is a diagnosis” sometime before 2010.

 

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