Shouldn’t there be a purpose behind our busy-ness?

When someone asks you “how are you doing?” do you respond with “I’m busy”? I did an experiment recently and paid close attention to my response and others when asked that question. While this is not a scientific experiment, it provided me with some interesting results. Three out of the five people I asked all within a period of a morning said “busy” or “I’m busy” and I responded four times out of five with the same answer.

Now, here is the reason I began looking at this. A couple of years ago, I attended a conference with the Kansas Leadership Center. The CEO, Ed O’Malley made a statement that gave me a big “Ah Ha” moment. He said instead of being “busy”, he suggested instead - be “purposeful”. This resonated with me so much because I am aware I myself respond that I was busy quite a bit. My perception and interpretation to what O’Malley said confirmed we are all busy with our family, work and our community activities and it can sometimes be overwhelming. What happens if instead of being busy, we shifted our view to being purposeful? Do we understand the purpose of the things we do? Are we consciously aware of the focus and intentions of our day to day activities? Instead of just being busy, what is it we are busy doing. And why?

So I began looking at what busy defines for me and I started identifying the day to day things I had to do to make everything work in my life. I have to do laundry, I have to feed my family and pets, I have to pay my bills. All of these are “have to’s”. Then I began looking at the purpose behind those things. Let’s take the “have to” of doing the laundry. This is not one of my favorite things to do, pretty mundane right? Well, digging deeper to the purpose of this chore I thought the purpose could be to have clean clothes to wear, then deeper yet is to look “put together” to others but as I dug deeper the real purpose for me was that having clean, nice clothes made me and my family feel good. That was the purpose I came to about the laundry and it changed the way I thought about that chore. Now holding awareness in mind to the purpose of that task makes what I normally dislike easier to get through.

While I am “busy”, I plan to be busy with a purpose. Shouldn’t there be a purpose behind our busy-ness? If there isn’t, maybe those things that keeps us busy needs to be evaluated. Determine what the real purpose is behind each task. It takes digging a little deeper than the surface. This is a good time to ask the five “why’s”. Why is it important? After coming up with an answer ask why again. By the fifth “why” you should have the true purpose.

Holding to purpose is a key component of exercising leadership, personally and within any group you are working with. Understanding the deeper meaning of the work you are doing will provide a reason for doing that work. Take the time. Imagine the look on people’s faces when you can go from saying “I’m busy” to “I’m purposeful”.

For more information on this subject and more, contact Becky Wolfe at Leadership Butler, or visit Leadership Butler’s website at