Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!


Most of my articles have something of an autobiographical nature to them. As someone who usually works 50-60 hours each week, this one is no exception. Busyness doesn't help your business. Most of us do too much and we're proud of it - but we shouldn't be. In the early 20th century leisure was a sign of success. The world has since been turned upside down and having a schedule that's filled to the max is evidence of an industrious spirit that will certainly lead to success, and perhaps leisure sometime down the road, but not yet.

However, our busyness may actually be inhibiting our progress and keeping us from the very success we so much desire.

Being overworked is bad for you. It's bad for your health. Evidence shows that overwork impairs your sleep, is bad for your heart, and leads to depression - and that's just the beginning. It's also bad for your business. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Sarah Green Carmichael notes: "Considerable evidence shows that overwork is not just neutral - it hurts us and the companies we work for. Overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, but they're also terrible for a company's bottom line, showing up as absenteeism, turnover, and rising health insurance costs. In sum, the story of overwork is literally a story of diminishing returns: keep overworking, and you'll progressively work more stupidly on tasks that are increasingly meaningless."

Tony Schwartz, founder of the Energy Project, reminds us that human beings are not computers. He says, "We're not meant to run at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. Science tells us we're at our best when we move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy - a reality that companies must embrace to fuel sustainable engagement and high performance."

In his book, The Way We're Working Isn't Working, he presents a compelling case for a balance between physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual renewal. He writes: "We're at our best when we move between expending energy and intermittently renewing our four core energy needs: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. When you're intent on supplying fuel in each dimension of energy, you're creating happier people that will affect your organization's success."

I'm no mind reader (just ask my wife!) but I'm pretty sure you're thinking I'm naïve and out of touch with reality. But let me cite one more resource that may be even more compelling. Perhaps you've heard this. "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." The principle of living in a harmonious rhythm that alternates between times of work and renewal is nothing new at all. It's as old as . . . well, you get the idea.

Here's the place where I should offer a list of practical and immediately useful tips to help you escape from the treadmill of being overworked. (That's the kind of thing a good coach would do.) Sorry. Google has all the lists you could possibly want so I'll pass. I bet you already know what should be on your list. So, "don't just do something, stand there" and build some time into your routine to renew your body, emotions, mind and spirit. You may not be as busy but you'll certainly be more effective.


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