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Are You Too Busy to Have Fun?

By Michael Bungay Stanier

Look around you. Who's having fun? Who's just faking it? (And who's just grumpy?)

And how much fun are you having? Is there room in your life for a little more fun, or are you just too busy?

The Seventh Irresistible Principle of Fun

Of the Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun the one that rings most loudly for me right now is Number Seven: Stop being busy.

Being busy is so seductive. It's a place of reassurance and a place of power. (If I'm this busy, I must be important/useful/secure). It's a place where we eliminate the space to ponder.

That has its benefits - it can reduce our anxiety, because we don't have the time to ask Paul Gauguin's three big questions: D'o venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? O allons-nous?" ("Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?").

But it also reduces our space to think about possibilities, to imagine what the right thing rather than the required thing might be. After all, just because you're going flat out, doesn't mean you're on the right track.

Busyness can also become a habit. Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement says:

To be slow means that you govern the rhythms of your life. You are in control of deciding how fast you have to go. Today, you might want to go fast, so you do. Tomorrow, however, you might want to go slow, so you can. That is the difference. It is useless to force the rhythms of life... The art of living is about learning how to give time to each and every thing... Ultimately, 'slow' means to take the time to reflect. It means to take the time to think. With calm, you arrive everywhere.

To stop being busy is as simple and as difficult as deciding what will you say "no" to. Michael Dell of Dell Computers says, "It's easy to decide what you're going to do. The hard thing is figuring out what you're not going to do."

But it's important. Not just to stop the rushing around, but because the only way to start doing more Great Work is to say ''no" to Good Work

The Busyness Test

How will you stop being busy? Answer these questions:

1.If you gave yourself a score out of ten for "busy-ness" right now, what would it be?

2.If you gave yourself a score for doing Great Work right now, what would it be?

3.Do you sense a gap?

Busyness Solutions

Now, consider your answers to these two questions:

1.What's one thing you could do that would increase the amount of Great Work in your life?

2.What's one thing you need to say "no" to, to allow space for that Great Work to occur?

You can download the Action Acceleration Sheet for free at - use it as your worksheet, and move from stuck to action.

About The Author

Michael Bungay Stanier is a keynote speaker and the author of the best selling business coaching tool, Get Unstuck & Get Going...on the stuff that matters. A certified coach and Rhodes Scholar, he works with coaches, trainers, teams and organizations to help them get unstuck and get going on the stuff that matters. Sign up for Michael's free Outside the Lines ezine. For more information visit


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