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Don’t be the “Busy” Founder

You’re not that busy.

You’re pretending to be busy. Or, better said… choosing to be. You’re busy because you think you’re supposed to be. Because it feels good. You’re a founder and that’s just the way it is.

Now, your gut reaction to the above might have been, “Listen, bub — I don’t LIKE being this busy. It does NOT feel good.” But — and I’ll try to say this cautiously — you do. You really do. After all, if your time is so precious that you’re always being pulled in different directions and have SO much going on, you must then, undeniably, be Important. Being important feels good, so we do a lot to keep feeling that way. Some of that is conscious, some of it is a little deeper.

This isn’t just a problem for startup founders or CEOs — instead, it’s a problem, honestly, for everyone. We’re all susceptible to the same plague. Over-worked young professionals at startups, CEOs, agency employees, every human being living in New York — we’re all running around reveling in busyness because philosophically, maybe, it stems off the tide of doubt and self-concern that comes creeping in when we have a little less to do. Because without SO much to do, we have a little time to wonder about scary-ass things like…

Is this the right thing to do?
Am I making the right choice?
Did I make that decision from the right place? Was I empowered, or was I afraid?
Is my life on track? My team? My business?

When you’re not busy, you have time to learn more. You have time to see more. You’re responsible for more. You have less of an excuse for your choices being wrong. Most of us, without admitting it, want our startups and companies to be busy, because it makes the perfect excuse when months down the line we’ve done something really, really silly.

Say, we didn’t validate our product. Or we shipped with bugs. Or we didn’t A/B test anything at all. Or we never learned everything we needed to learn about our consumer. When you’re busy, your next step after *not* making this choice, is already pre-determined…

“But you don’t understand. We didn’t have the time. We were overworked. You were too. WE WERE ALL SO BUSY, WE JUST COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT ANY OTHER WAY.”

So, the painful secret is that… you could have. You actually HAD to. Had you have slowed down and studied more, learned more, validated better, taken your time and researched and experimented and all that good shit, you could have succeeded. It’s not the going slow that would have made your project (maybe your life) more successful, it’s not the speed that matters. Instead, it is the deliberate, intentional thinking and action. But since you were too busy… you get to play the card that it’s not entirely your fault. But, well, sorry… it still is. Them’s the breaks, chief.

Being busy is a curse that you inflict upon yourself and your team because it feels easier than the alternative — being intentional. But easier isn’t better. It’s the short-term reward, the quick-fix, the whip-it can — instead of the long-delayed gratification of doing things right. You complain that you’re so busy, it’s so terrible, you want a break, but really some part of you is loving how cozy and important you feel. How warm it is to be so god-damn important.

The sad part? You love it all so much that you’re willing to bask in it at the cost of your team’s success, your company’s future and your own excellence.

You don’t get more done because you’re busy. 
You’re not busy because you actually have so much to do. 
You’re busy because you want to be, whether you know it or not.

Be less busy.

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