19. July 2011 11:04
We live in a culture that admires busyness.
We applaud the fast moving, hard driving the entrepreneur, always on their phone, endlessly moving from meeting to meeting.
We respect the urgent executives, with mountainous To Do Lists, no time for breaks, as they get tasks done at a rocket like pace.
But our obsession with busyness can be incredibly costly.
Because usually, the busier we are the less quality thinking we are doing.
And it's thinking that really improves businesses, not just doing.
As Henry David Thoreau put it, “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?"
Most business executives need to do less and think more.
Michael Dell didn't become a billionaire because he worked harder and faster than everyone else.
He became a billionaire because he came up with a great idea: to sell computers direct, cutting out the dealer network, which was the prevalent and ubiquitous business model at the time.
Howard Schultz didn't become a billionaire because he worked hard either. He became one because he travelled to Italy and had an idea: that European specialty style coffee shops would do well in America.
Anita Roddick didn't become one of the richest women in the world because she was busier than other women entrepreneurs.
She became rich because she conceived the idea of opening a specialist bath and body shop, supporting native cultures.
Sure, we should all work hard, but working hard doesn't create a competitive advantage, as most of our competitors are also doing it.
Where we can get ahead is by devoting at least 20 minutes a day to just thinking - alone, with a blank pad of paper and a pen. Resisting society's urge to do, do, do all the time.
It's ideas that created the modern world and it's ideas that will revolutionise your business.
But they need time to originate.
So every day, stop working for awhile and do some quality thinking. It sounds simple, but it's not an easy thing to do.
As Henry Ford said, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it."