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What just happened in August??!

Something strange has been happening this month. In fact, not just this month, but it has begun to repeat a pattern over the last three or four Augusts. This pattern is so strange, it prompted me to investigate, and what I have found concerns me.

As you may know, I chair pearcemayfield, a company that offers help and guidance through consultancy and training in major transformational change. pearcemayfield has found that August has been their busiest month for bookings on training courses, and it's been like that for the last two or three years.

That's good, isn't it?

Well, compare that to five or ten years ago. August was a dead month for training courses. It was not worth running any events over the summer because everyone took time off to go on holiday.

So why are we seeing the opposite behaviour now?

From talking to clients I am getting the same story again and again. They need our coaching. They need training, but they can't find the time during the rest of the year. They are driven and distracted by so many things at work. The only time the pressure lifts off a little seems to be in the summer months. This kind of work lifestyle pressure is something that has crept up on most of us in recent years, There's a name for it: chronic time poverty. It's something we have all thought about from time to time... that is before we are distracted by the next thing in our over-busy lives.

There is a name for this phenomenon: chronic time poverty.

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From where I sit, some effects of time poverty in business are quite alarming. It is driving out a set of behaviours that prevent us from doing our best work.

For example, here are a few of them:

  • Decisions take longer to make. In the course of this time, they become more vulnerable to new events and issues interrupting them, or even disrupting them. 
  • People are more distracted by multiple channels of communication, each calling for their attention.
  • There is more noise in the system  and less margin or slack  to take autonomous creative action.

I advise clients engaged in strategic change. These kinds of changes often need to be quite transformational, and so change needs to be led carefully. Most of my clients are time poor to the extent that they are driven by massive multiple agendas.

This sounds far from positive, right?

So, I decided to create some space in my own life, deliberately trying not to consort with this excessive busyness, to investigate this whole area. Among the conclusions I have come to are the following:

  • The drivers for this massive change in working culture do include the usual suspects, such as the internet of things (IoT), but IoT, for example, is merely a type of deeper more structural drivers at work on business,
  • Most "experts" tackle this as a productivity problem, merely about using a few time management techniques or apps. This is both helpful and deceptive. It's helpful in that some of these approaches do give quick wins. Quick wins motivate us and give us hope. But the danger is that we stop there.
  • People address the problem as time management, and that frames the problem in a way that misses a major breakthrough.
  • There is an emerging better way to work that some have identified, and it is profoundly freeing, liberating for all of us.

Busyness is a great enemy of relationships. We become preoccupied with making a living, doing our work, paying bills, and accomplishing goals as if these tasks are the point of life. They are not.

Rick Warren

So I set out to write about this better way of working.

My new book: Leading Yourself: Succeeding from the Inside Out

In the next few weeks I will be publishing my second solo book: Leading Yourself: Succeeding from the Inside Out. It's been said before that all change starts within the individual, the leader. So my new book will be an exploration of this emergent way of working that frees us from the tyranny of busyness to do our best work.

leading yourself 3d book cover

The reviews I'm getting back are very encouraging. More than that, it comes from my own experience of fighting for this freedom and succeeding. So I'm quite excited about how the book will help the reader, and ultimate their organisations to shift from being driven to pulling into the present the future they'd hoped for.

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If you would like to get a chapter from the book now, just click here.

I have a question for you: What is the most important self-leadership lesson you have learned? What effect did it have on your life?

Please leave your answer below. I'm genuinely interested.

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Who do you think you are? | Patrick Mayfield - 28/09/2016

[…] book is about how we can do our best work in this VUCA world. When if comes to moving towards our optimum performance there is a real paradox: our […]

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