Don’t mention the ‘B’ word

In my new world without professional borders my day can take me anywhere.  Or nowhere.  According to my therapist* I am nobody going nowhere doing nothing which is quite a shock to someone on their sixth passport.

Today, my new life has taken me to The Lost and Found Department in the quest to furnish our new place.  Here I meet the delightful Silvia.  Silvia is a survivor of the corporate world.  She radiates happiness and energy.


I have discovered there’s an alumni of ex-executives who’ve decommissioned themselves to dedicate their talent and energy to projects that matter.  Projects that matter just to them or to the greater good – it doesn’t matter who they matter to, they just need to matter.  It’s sort of Career 2.0: Once More With Meaning.


In a past life Silvia did amazing things with retail spaces in a design-y way.  She also has four children, keeps chooks and bees and runs earthy cooking workshops. Today she is a whirlwind of activity, climbing in and out of the back of her workhorse 4WD hoisting bric-a-brac into the space she shares with a paint company.   In two days time she will host one her famous Saturday Fleas and she is flat out getting the stock on location and the little shop ready.   For all intents and purposes, she is B.U.S.Y.

But don’t dare say that to Silvia.   Our conversation went something like this:
Me:  Hey Silvia, how are things?
Silvia:  Oh you know … Saturday Flea
Me:  Yeah you must be so busy
Silvia:  Oh no no no we don’t use that word!
Me:  Sorry?
Silvia:  The ‘B’ word
Me:  Oh?
Silvia:  It’s such a boring word – everyone is so B.U.S.Y. busy busy busy – it drives me nuts so I banned it.
Me:  Ok.  So about that rug you’ve sourced for me …
As I drove home with my new rug (grey and white diamond print) I thought about all the B.U.S.Y people I know.  And all the times we use the ‘B’ word.  And why being busy has become a default state.
I once had a colleague who turned busy into an art form.  We used to say she could look busy crossing the street.  All those times she flapped into the office in deep conversation on her mobile we suspect she was leaving herself a message on her own voicemail.
Or the middle manager so busy he’d boast he had no time to sleep on the red-eye from Delhi to London before a 14-hour day of back-to-back meetings where he was too busy on email to actually talk to the staff he’d come to see.
Take a moment to think about it.  How often to you use or hear someone else use the word busy to describe their day, their job, their life?  Every day?  Many times a day? I thought so. So here’s a little challenge; remove the ‘B’ word from your vocabulary.  Start with a busy-free day … one day at a time.  Stretch it to a week.  My friends are catching on – even the ones running their own business (you want to see busy, spend a day with an entrepreneur).    Before you know it you’ll have more time on your hands – figuratively at the very least.  And much more interesting conversation cards.
And no, you can’t replace it with C.R.A.Z.Y.
* more on the therapist later

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