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The Sandbox

December 2, 2007

A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox. He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic bucket, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox.

The boy dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. With no little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. (He was a very small boy and the rock was very large). When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn’t roll it up and over the wall.

Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox.

The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed and shoved. But his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his fingers.

Finally he burst into tears of frustration. All this time the boy’s father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy’s father.

Gently but firmly he said, “Son, why didn’t you use all the strength that you had available?”

Defeated, the boy sobbed back, “But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!”

“No, son,” corrected the father kindly, “you didn’t use all the strength you had. You didn’t ask me for help.”

With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.


Coach’s Comment
: Are you using ALL of the resources at your disposal. Some of us will struggle against an issue and use all of the tools we have, while still forgetting that there is a simple tool we have not used. That tool is a simple, direct request. When asked to help most people will do so; just make a simple request of a friend, colleague or loved one to help you achieve your goals. Who can you ask to lend a helping hand today?

Does Busy-ness effect the health of your Business?

October 9, 2007

You know how it goes— quickly eating lunch whilst taking that last minute phone call, doing preparation for the meeting starting in 5 minutes, and at the same time thinking where you will be having dinner this evening.

Busyness Chasing PaperThis behaviour does nothing for your concentration, productivity … or indigestion.

It seems that the speed of technology has also had an effect on the speed in which we attempt to run our lives. It is so fast that activities are running into each other. But as human beings, not computers, our capabilities as “multi-tasking machines” is limited. Research has proven that your memory is considerably reduced by attempting to concentrate on more than one activity or stimulus at a time. Try it yourself—try to memorise a list of numbers or names whilst someone is talking to you about a separate topic.

Trying to be all things to all people at work is not a recipe for career success. On the contrary, continually worrying about schedules and deadlines and multiple projects only makes you rush. And rushing, as you’re bound to find out sooner or later, means more mistakes and lower quality work.

Many people complain that they just don’t have enough hours in the day to meet all the competing demands they face. But the problem is not so much one of time management as one of unrealistic expectations. These people have a bad case of ‘the shoulds’. Their entire focus is on what they should be doing or what they think other people believe they should be doing.

People with ‘busyness disorder’ typically:

  • rush
  • tackle up to 15 to 20 different projects at once
  • work more than 12 hours a day
  • work weekends
  • can’t say no
  • have appalling diets which lead to extremes in body weight

Most don’t even recognise they have a problem. They fail to see the connection between their behaviours and current or potential health problems.

How did we get here?
People plagued with ‘busyness disorder’ basically suffer from the effects of the modern world, with its combination of high technology, materialism and ‘profit at any cost’ mentality.

There is a high focus on achievement gained from external motivators such as salary, car, houses and possessions. But when you rely on external motivators alone you may not reach the happiness you are searching for and keep on striving for the next thing, not knowing that what you are looking for is right in front of you.

The “big picture” focus is a shift to internal motivators such as satisfying values and emotions, gaining a sense of confidence, fulfilment and self worth.

Getting off the merry-go-round
The way to take control of your life and rid yourself of busyness is to say no. There are also techniques such as that developed by US motivational expert Timothy Gallwey, who advises people against knee-jerk reactions to work demands. Gallwey’s STOP technique stands for:

  • Step back
  • Think
  • Organise
  • Proceed

The more you try to squeeze multiple activities in the same time/space, the less productive you will be. Some of you will say that this is easier said than done, and I would agree, but there is one straight-forward response that will go a long way toward keeping you focused on what is important, and give you the time to give each activity its full focus. That response is “No” or Not now”.

The bottom line is really about putting your desire for less ‘busyness’ into action. The real key is that you can read as many articles as you like and you can believe in the principles of change but until you take action it is meaningless.

Try this :

  • Ask yourself what’s the worse thing that can happen. Let go of the notion you must meet every single expectation and for everything to be perfect.
  • Learn to prioritise. Make lists and stick to them.
  • Lower your expectations. Accept that you have limitations and learn to live with them.
  • Focus on one thing at a time. Learn to value quality rather than quantity.
  • Pay attention to your health. Your body could be telling you to slow down.
  • Get professional help if ‘busyness’ is threatening your health.

Busy-ness is a direct result of not understanding our own limitations, and the time we have to allocate and is required by each task. Are you looking for success through doing more ? If so then you may find yourself slowing sinking into a position of fatigue, ineffectiveness and frustration.