Busyness is Not a Badge of Honor but an Indicator of Poor Leadership

Jim Collins - An organization is not truly great if it cannot be great without you

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We have an epidemic of over-busyness. It’s an odd paradox that fills us with both pride and frustration.

When things are going well we talk with excitement about how busy we are. When we’re tired or frustrated we complain about how busy we are.

There is a healthy level of busyness which lies along the continuum between lazy and overburdened. However, more and more of us seem to be living in the “red zone” of over-busyness.

“Red Zone” of Over-Busyness

It’s a place of stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It’s a place of perpetual compromise, stealing time from one commitment in an effort to keep another.

But being busy makes us feel good about ourselves. We are in demand, indispensible, people need us. We feel important. So, while we may resent busyness at times, often we aren’t really all that interested in changing.

Plus, we’re so busy we really don’t have time for self-reflection or making changes.

Poor Management

I’m a husband, a father of 3, co-founder & CEO of a company, elder of my church, board member of a nonprofit, blogger, social media aficionado, Little League coach and more. I love to help people and be involved.

For years I thought I was helping my team at work, the people in my church, my family and my community by doing more. But by trying to do too much, I was wearing myself out. And because I was over-committed, I was dropping a lot of balls and not doing anything particularly well.

Instead of helping, I actually became the biggest barrier to the success of my company, my church and my family.

Pride and Fear

My observation is that most busyness is due to pride and fear.

  • We don’t empower others to do what we’re doing because we like being needed.
  • We don’t let others do what we’re doing because we think no one can do it as well as we can.
  • We don’t ask people to do things because we’re afraid they’ll say no.
  • We don’t delegate because we’re afraid other people will screw things up.
  • We don’t want to say no because we’re afraid of disappointing others or ourselves.

Sometimes busyness is also due to ignorance. Until recently, I didn’t realize just how counterproductive my busyness was or know what to do about it. That’s why I’m writing this. Ignorance be gone! 🙂

Good Leadership

Leadership is accomplishing bigger things with a team than one can do on his or her own.

Busyness is a symptom of trying to do too much ourselves.

Whether you lead a business, church, ministry, family or Little League team, there are always ways to recruit, train/mentor and empower others to do what you’re doing.

Life Is Short

Before you know it, you will be gone from your current position at work, the nonprofit you serve in, your children, and ultimately from this world. As Jim Collins said…

An organization is not truly great if it cannot be great without you.

(Feel free to retweet that)

Instead of asking “What do I… ?” start asking “Who do I… ?”

Lead your way out of over-busyness to the life God intended for you.

That’s where my focus is these days.  I’m still over-committed and falling short in many ways, but I’m headed in the right direction and making progress.

For more on overcoming busyness see the series Things You Don’t have Time Not to Do.


  • How are you doing in the battle with busyness?
  • What’s one thing you’re going to take off your plate by recruiting and empowering someone else to do it?

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