Nellaiappan’s Column-2: "Busy Vs. Too Busy"

In most cases, the readers are more intelligent than the writers. It has been proved again yesterday. I received a phone-call about my last article. The caller surprised me, by talking about what I was going to write. He said, “I know your next topic is about Lin Yutang”. He was unable to hide his pride and continued, “I know all your tricks; you have brought his name in your last article though there was no need for that”. I thanked him and appreciated his shrewdness.

But till then, I had no idea of what to write for the next one. I am grateful to the caller for providing me with an idea and to my old friend Mr.VE.Annamalai, who gave me “The importance of living” 25 years ago; let me share something I learnt from Lin Yutang.

“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy, can’t be wise.” When I read this for the first time, I was a college student. Though I was enjoying the quotation, I have not realized its full implication. After taking up ‘manufacturing’ as my ‘bread and butter’ and while I was struggling to manage my time effectively during my initial years, I understood and appreciated the wisdom behind it.

Even today many workaholics, especially executives, spend 12-16 hours a day in the office. I only pity them. Are they really contributing? Is there really any value addition? If so, can’t it be done within the stipulated working hours?

The fact is there is no need to do so. These hardcore workaholics not only spoil the working atmosphere, but cause huge damages to their own home front. This wrong concept has to be unlearned.

What we do at the time of emergency is different. But emergency cannot become a way of life. I know people who simply stay extra hours in office and derive a sort of pseudo-satisfaction.

Lack of systems, lack of resources and fear to delegate work are the major reasons for such work behavior.

I happened to work for one owner-cum-incharge and he was almost living in the factory. What is more he was expecting me also to do the same. I had to tell him point blank that why I could not do so.

Job is for bread and butter and to keep a respectable roof over your head. But life has other meanings and one needs to spare one’s time to pursue these other dreams, other goals, which could be higher, elevating, uplifting and ennobling and hence more fulfilling and more satisfying. You cannot earn money first and then pursue your dreams, these other goals. Both have to go hand-in-hand, simultaneously. It is very unfortunate that one spends any amount of time to work and other daily chore but does not find time to pursue one’s dreams, the higher goals of life.

If one spends all one’s time in work and other routine matters, when and how does one think and find time for pursuing one’s life purpose, the greater goals of life?

Lucky are the people who still manage to ride the two horses simultaneously like a circus-man: the breadwinner riding the horse of family and work and the dreamer riding the horse of higher goals of life. One finds fulfillment when one is able to manage both. The rest of us have to compromise somewhere, one overlapping the other or one at the cost of the other.

When I say busy, it is not just the timeframe, but also the tension that accompanies it. More often than not, the tension is due to delaying action till the last minute.

Well, management gurus have discussed in length about important Vs urgent, and I am not going to reproduce any of that here.

I always believe in team work and team building is an art. Where ever I work I take it as my first priority to develop my subordinates. When the team is in tact I never feel the urgency.

As I am aware that 90% of my work can be done by my subordinate I always look for sharing the work of my boss. I always encourage the down line people to take decision and to tell you the truth, most of the time they have come out with better solutions.

When some of their solutions are not up to the mark, I simply ask them few questions and they will immediately realize their mistake and the final result will be commendable.

Most of the people do the reverse of this. I once retorted with “why keep a dog and bark yourself?” to my old boss when he tried to do my job, which I usually give to my subordinates.

The secret is, train your people well and through some challenge and they will never allow you to be busy.

Oh! There is an emergency call from my house and let me attend to that first. See you again, bye!

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