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Busyness as a Badge of Honor

“Busyness as a Badge of Honor”. I have heard this used to describe that person who is always soooo busy. Every time you talk to them or see them they are on the move. At work they are buried. You ask them to do something and they sigh and roll their eyes and tell you to get in line. Their personal lives are incredibly hectic. They are going from one thing to another with barely enough time to breathe. I used to work with a guy who would say “I am busier than a one-armed paper hanger in a hurricane!” I don’t want to be busier than a one-armed paper hanger in a hurricane.


I am working hard not to be that person but I still find myself pinning that badge of honor on my chest from time to time. I remember when it was a regular part of my day.


At work when someone would pose the question- “How’s business?” I would always respond with a canned answer about how busy I was. It was a defense mechanism. It made me feel like I was holding up my end of the bargain. Everyone wants to be successful and achieving and proving to their boss that they are worthy of praise and a raise and not being fired.


I was afraid to tell the truth. I was afraid to say that I was reading some article online about a topic that has nothing to do with me because I was bored. Or because I had to do something that I didn’t want to do and this was an easy way to procrastinate. Or just because work wasn’t that busy and I was sitting at my desk with nothing much to do.


The Tao Te Ching talks about the ordinary man who is always doing things yet many more are left undone. Why does that happen? Some books would say that we are concentrating on the wrong things. We are staying busy by putting our focus on the small stuff that doesn’t really matter because it keeps us occupied. If we focus in on the small stuff maybe we won’t have to face the larger stuff that can be much more intimidating to tackle.


The Tao talks about the Master. The Master doesn’t try to be powerful. The Master does nothing. Yet the Master is truly powerful and leaves nothing undone. When I am more truthful with myself and others, I can bring the risky stuff to the surface. If I am not the ordinary man reaching for power and using my busyness as proof that I deserve that power, I can talk about the truth. I can talk about the intimidating problem that is larger and it keeping me stuck where I am.


When I talk about the truth and talk about what is happening right in front of me (embracing the Tao), I can be like the Master. I can be powerful without reaching for that power. If I can find that flow, I can be confident that I am doing nothing but everything is getting done because I am paying attention to the right things.



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