Selective Is The New Smart

There is an enlightening post on Linkedin titled Busy Is The New Stupid by Ed Baldwin, a Human Resources strategist and consultant. It caught my eye. While reading it, I laughed aloud recognizing some of my own foolish attitudes outlined in the article.

Who hasn’t heard themselves comment to friends and colleagues about how busy they are, as if it’s a badge of honor? The assumption being that busy is positively equated with self-worth…I am busy therefore I am valuable.

Busy doesn’t automatically mean valuable or more importantly, meaningful.

What are we so busy doing? How productive are these efforts? What clear and intentional goals are these efforts in service to? Or are our labors merely “busywork” that gives us an immediate sense of accomplishment but distracts us from addressing what’s really important? Do we receive long term satisfaction each time we cross an item off our to-do list knowing it is purposeful and intentional towards a clear goal? Or is it short-lived? Do we find ourselves thinking the very next day, what now?

Where does busy come from anyway? Is it based on a belief that progress means a jammed calendar and a list of commitments to follow through on?

Perhaps busy has become the new stupid in the sense that it has slipped into our culture and taken root within our core values, completely unnoticed. Being unaware, in any sense, is unwise. To be robotic or mindless in thought and action is risky. It may be easier and time saving but it also comes with a high price tag affecting how we experience our work and our lives.

Anything worthwhile deserves our attention and our awareness. The issue with busy is that we begin to look at quantity of actions over quality of actions. What do we believe will have a more positive and lasting impact within the same time frame? One excellent, highly conscious action or ten mediocre, semi-automatic ones?

Busy is a habit many of us have accepted as a measure of productivity. Is it a true measure? What would be a more accurate gauge of our forward movement?

How about if we try on selectivity for size? What if selective became the new smart? What if we measured our success by our level of awareness about we are doing and why?

How about instead of making a to do-list, we created a “to be aware of” list?

If we want to break the busy habit, we can replace it with the awareness habit. We can value asking ourselves “what for and why” every time we feel the urge to take on a new project or jump to answer someone’s request.  We can respect and appreciate our most honest answers. We can begin to make different choices that honor what’s deeply significant for our work and our lives, even if it’s 180 degrees in the opposite direction of what we focus on now.

For long term success and fulfillment, selective is the new smart.

Start being selective today.


Today’s 5-minute action item – Look at your calendar and to-do list for this week or the month. What do you see? Do all of your action items support meaningful goals? Meaningful can mean anything from having fun to earning a million dollars…the point is they are goals that you have consciously set. If you notice any “busywork,” figure out why and how you committed to it in the first place and ask yourself if you are willing to be more selective in the future.

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