Being Busy But Not Responsible

November 1, 2000

In this issue:

Newsbrief: Journal for the New Culture: LOHAS Journal

Being Busy But Not Responsible, by John Renesch

More Newsbriefs; Industrial Chaplains??




Journal for the New Culture: LOHAS Journal : John has been asked to write an article on the work he’s doing with his new Canterbury partnership for the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Spirituality) Journal which is the periodical published for Cultural Creatives; Paul Ray, author of the new book of the same title is a regular columnist for the Journal which began publication earlier; the subject of his article will be “Conscious Leadership” the same name given to the executive roundtables being launched in NYC and the Bay Area at the first of the new year.



Being Busy But Not Responsible

by John Renesch

2000 © John Renesch

Have you noticed how so many people have been bitten by the “busy bug” these days? Have you also noticed how so many of these very busy people are also the ones with the cell phones and the pagers? I don’t mean the ones who simply use these cellular technologies but the ones who seem to rub them in everybody’s faces – to the point of total rudeness, as if wanting to stand out.

I wrote some months ago about the new epidemic of “busy-ness” that has swept our country as well as many other industrialized nations, but it has gotten even worse since then with more and more people being less and less considerate about how imposing their little “toys” are to those around them. For those who do this (and please don’t read this as a blanket assessment of all technology users), their rudeness is even more offensive since it seems steeped in arrogance, like “look at me, I’m so busy and important.” As one participant in one of my online discussion groups said: “I have taken a few years off from business of late and the single and most significant change I have noticed upon my recent return is the scarcity of integrity. The bar seems to have been all but erased when it comes to honoring commitments. I am sure that “busy-ness” plays its part in all of this.

“In fact, a couple of my suppliers have suggested that it was their busy schedules that prevented them from calling me back, honoring a commitment, etc. I recently had a salesman fail to process an order for some technology that I was to employ in the field for a high visibility launch for a customer. On the day of the installation I called to ask where they were. He said, after some prompting to be honest about it, that he completely forgot about our launch date and asked if I could remind him of the nature of our proposed project. I was overwhelmed and amazed. In our rush to do more, it seems that the quality of what is being done is suffering tremendously. Not to mention the quality of our lives! …. I don’t blame the tools for the dysfunctions that manifest through their use. Technology does provide valuable leverage and certainly compresses time efficiently. However, as with any other tool, the quality of its byproducts will be determined by the attention and intention of the user.”

I pointed out to my group that at least one author I know of (Robert Kiyosaki) wrote that always being busy was a way of avoiding responsibility – something that might seem counter-intuitive until one reflects on one’s experience with overly busy people.

Another participant in the online discussion posted the following: “I find that I have to be very mindful and conscious of not using, unconsciously or consciously, “busy-ness” as a way to avoid feeling what I feel, or as an excuse for not doing things I don’t want to do. Switching the “I can’t’s” in my life to “I won’t’s” or “I choose not to’s”…… saying “while I would love to do this, I have chosen to prioritize these other things in my life and not this right now.” It’s very awkward sometimes, because there are SO many ways that even our language is imbued with deflection of responsibility for choice and with excuse-making statements. It’s like it is a totally unconscious subtext, reflecting belief systems that are so deeply ingrained in our psyches.

“From my perspective, having an active, creative, energized life full of variety and excitement and any number of things that stimulate oneself to greater and greater growth is not the same simply as being too busy to breathe or to take the time to be genuinely human and in touch with what is going on at all levels of our being.

“And this raises the issues of responsibility for our choices and honesty with others about that fact. What I mean by this is not forgetting that I have made choices about where I am, choosing to dedicate energy and waking hours, and I prioritize certain activities and things over others. At least on the physical plane, we only have so many hours in a day, and our choice to dedicate however many of them to whatever number of activities or endeavors (be such endeavors money-making ones, meditation, working out, whatever) necessarily means that some of the infinite possibilities for using those hours do not get prioritized or realized.

“What I mean by the honesty issue is being very clear within myself about not “using” busy-ness as an excuse for not doing things I CHOOSE not to do. This, to me, is another component of taking full responsibility for myself, my life, and what I am contributing to the world as a human being (in whatever context, work-related or not). It is not fair to people — and is disingenuous and dishonors them — simply to cry “I am too busy!” if what is really going on is “I don’t want to.”


“I am working on owning my own choices better, and not simply setting up the firewall of other commitments, as if I have no choice in the matter. I have my priorities and make my choices, and others deserve to be treated with respect by me in being clear about those choices and priorities.”




The first of The Presidio Dialogues was held Tuesday, October 24. Mystic Rob Rabbin stirred the audience…some to major insights, some to greater connections with themselves, and some to displeasure…”a very provoking evening” stated John, who interviewed Rob for the first portion of the evening.



Peter Roche is the author of this month’s guest editorial in eCHOICE , John’s UNfree e-newsletter. Peter is a co-founder of London Perret Roche Group, LLC, based in New Jersey and is a partner of John’s in Canterbury Consulting, LLC, providers of executive coaching services which focus on self-examination and intrsopection. Next month’s eCHOICE Guest Editorial will be by Ciba executive Peter Sorg of Switzerland. To subscribe to eCHOICE (see information below).



Industrial Chaplains: Monitoring the Soul of Business: David Welbourn, an “industrial chaplain” from Great Britain, and his wife Jennie visited the San Francisco Bay Area in October; John had lunch with them while they were in town and learned much about the cultural differences that still exist between the Yanks and the Brits; David, a minister with the Anglican Church, is talking with U.S. executives about spirituality in the workplace – researching a book he plans to write.

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About John Renesch

Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John E. Renesch, a San Francisco writer, futurist, and business philosopher. His new book – Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing – is just out. He served as Editor-in-Chief of The New Leaders business newsletter from 1990 to 1997 and has created a dozen business anthologies on progressive business subjects, including consciousness, intuition and leadership. These books include New Traditions in Business, Learning Organizations and The New Bottom Line. 

He is also an international keynote speaker, having addressed audiences in Tokyo, Seoul, London, Brussels, Budapest as well as many cities throughout the U.S.


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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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