Mette Norgaard



Let's Ban Busyness

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A couple of years ago, I got really tired of the way we greet each other: “How are you”? “Good! Well, busy. Actually, it’s a bit crazy right now. Too much really! But [phony smile] better busy than not busy, right?” Wrong!

We wear busyness like a badge of honor, and with every hello we amplify the noise. Seriously, do you want your tombstone to read, “He was really busy”?

Being busy is seductive: we are active, involved, visible, important. But it comes with a price: bite-sized attention, sound-bite logic, shallow thinking, and switching costs. Busyness is bad for us, and it’s bad business!

A couple of years ago I decided to ban busyness from my vocabulary. Might you do the same?

Create X-treme Clarity 

As leaders our job is to create a climate where people want to step forward and do their best work. Decades of research by the Hay Group shows a high correlation between the degree of clarity and financial performance. 


Energy follows attention. If you want your team to lean in or be more innovative, direct their attention skillfully and make it enticing (1). People often start with what not to do, yet when we say, “don’t look at the elephant,” they are guaranteed to do so. Instead try, “Did you see that rhino!! That horn is something fierce. How fast do you think it can run?” 

Direct attention to the what and the why. Discuss the data and share stories. Dive into the difficulties and possibilities. Make it juicy, vivid, visceral, real. Create a clear and compelling image…and then take it up a notch.

Today there are endless streams of distractions. The leader’s job is to detect the signal in the noise – and amplify that! To take it from clarity to X-treme Clarity!

Try This for 30 Days

Many start their day already feeling behind and reprioritizing the to-do list. They finish thinking, “I was busy all day but got nothing done.” That sucks! Please don’t let that happen to your team.

Put this on your Desktop for 30 days:
If it’s not a “hell yes”, it’s a “no.” 

Here's how it goes.  Each team member wraps up the week, thinking about progress made and the week ahead. They then identify 3 yes’s and progress needed; and 3 no’s and how to handle (drop, delay, delegate).

Then start the next week with a huddle (virtual or face-to-face), make it quick, and rotate leadership. Share progress, your “hell yes” priorities, and how the team can help.

Keep it simple. Try it for 30 days. Build on what works. 



(1) Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award Winning Article (2016): The Focused Leader by Daniel Goleman