No one can make more excuses than I can on being too busy to take a class or learn about a new approach. I did, however, just sit through a four-hour financial course on increasing profitability for systems integrators. It was great, and I am quite proud of my level of concentration. I also learned a lot.
I sometimes avoid classes because I don’t like to think about change; it seems like all these classes teach change, and I want things to stay the same (or, better yet, to go back to the good old days). Avoiding learning is a way to avoid having to change. In order for us to be successful, the truth is that we have to make time to learn new things and prioritize our time differently than before.
I also cringe every time a young person tells me they are too busy. Too busy (or “crazy busy,” as they say) to them is normally a packed schedule of self-imposed work/life conflicts that makes little sense to an older business person. I think we have all become addicted to “busyness,” and I’m watching us pass that down to our children. (This explains their “crazy busy” response, I suppose.)
We have groomed the next generation to be “crazy busy” so they can be like us. What we need to do now is show them that we (the Boomers and Gen Y), too, are still willing to make ourselves available for learning.
I have also learned over the years that, if you start a reply to a question with, “I’ll try but I don’t have time,” or “We don’t have the people to do that,” you have already doomed yourself to failure. It’s better to say no. A more appropriate response might be to ask a follow-up question about why the task is more important or more valuable than what you currently planned to do.
We bypass important learning opportunities because we like our current routine. Most people I meet have a predetermined, comfortable schedule. Their busy schedule is packed, but perfect. Travel, time out of the office, being out of touch … those things disrupt our schedules. They can be a challenge when you’re overloaded to begin with.
In reality, I’m not too busy to get out and learn new things … and neither are you. But I bet we are both overloaded with information, spend hours with email, can’t believe how fast the day goes by, and seem overwhelmed by unfinished items. I ask only that you try to make yourself available once in a while to learn something new. CW