The Four-Letter Word You Need to Stop Using

8/11/15 8:00 AM Richelle Starke

Four Letter Word

I don’t know how you feel about foul language.

Maybe you watch your word choice in certain situations or with particular people.

But there’s a four-letter word you’re probably using every day – without even knowing it. And it’s time to cut it out of your vocabulary.

That nasty word is “busy.”

Sure, it might seem harmless enough. But this little word could be doing more damage than you realize.

Think about how often you throw it around.

The life of a restaurant owner is busy. I’d be surprised if you weren’t feeling stressed or overworked at least part of the time. But hiding behind that b-word isn’t doing anything to help. In fact, it’s the language of a victim.

Some people wear their busyness as a kind of martyr’s badge of honor, looking to impress others with how much they do every day. Others are fishing for sympathy or a way out of a commitment, using “busy” as an excuse for not following through or for missing a deadline.

In either case, the busy person – whether they’re aware of it or not – believes they’re a victim of their circumstances. They have no control over all the many things that are consuming their daily lives. The universe is out to get them and there’s nothing they can do.

But think about it. Are you really a slave to your to-do list?

Along with “busy,” you might also want to watch for other words popping up in your daily convos. All those things you have to do, for example. Or anytime you “have no choice” about something. Hit the pause button for a second and really ask yourself: Is that true?

Even though it might not feel like it, you probably have more control over things than you realize. You always have a choice about how you spend your time.

Okay, so you want to stop acting like a victim, but now to face reality. There really are a lot of things on your plate! You’ve got responsibilities at home and at the restaurant. People depend on you. If, like every owner or GM I’ve ever met, you feel pulled in too many directions at once, it might seem like nixing the word “busy” really won’t help the situation much. So how about this. Whenever you catch yourself about to use the b-word or other victim language, look for a way to do one of two things instead: communicate or empower.

Communicate with the people who might be able to help the situation or provide additional input or perspective.

Whether it’s your spouse at home or your management team at work, talk about what’s happening. Unlike hiding behind how busy you are, communication can build relationships and trust – and bringing people into the conversation often times can lead to a solution or ignite an idea you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.

Plus when people know what’s going on and feel like they’re a part of things, they might just offer to take some of that responsibility from you. If they do jump in to help, they’ll be more successful because you’ve been sharing the relevant info.

Empower yourself or someone else to get something accomplished.

If you’re feeling like a victim – maybe you’re thinking “when it rains, it pours,” or you’re in the middle of a perfect storm, or you feel like you’re barely treading water (wow, there are a surprising number of water-based clichés) – this can be the hardest thing to do.

Empowering yourself means taking action, making a choice and moving forward, even if you’re not 100% sure. Often, it’s the most strategic decisions where you feel the most torn. Sometimes empowering yourself just means biting the bullet and doing something you’ve been putting off for one reason or another. Or it could mean intentionally deciding not to do something.

Empowering someone else means letting them make a decision other than what you would do. It means giving up a little bit of control and putting your ego aside. And when you’re super busy, it might seem easier to do just the thing yourself instead of teaching or coaching someone else on it. Or maybe that task is just too important to delegate.

The point is: the choice is yours. Either do it yourself or empower someone you trust.

Hopefully all that regular communication you’ve been doing with your team will pay off in the trust department.

For other tools to help you create more time in your schedule – and help cut “busy” out of your vocabulary – download our ebook below. 

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Topics: Leadership, Manager Time Savings