Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Aug 2, 2017

The Fog of Busyness




Focus is under constant attack.  The speed of business makes longer term planning a dubious endeavor.  Projecting 5 years forward sounds reasonable.  That is until you go back 5 years and look at all the changes that have taken place through technology, societal attitudinal changes, business realities and logistics.  The leader is supposed to be defining the way forward for the team.  The vision of the future is the guiding light on the hill toward which the troops are pointed.  The relevancy of that vision is constantly being challenged by the market and by clients.


The leader can no longer easily keep up with all of the demands on their time.  Social media has become a major source of information and we are all drinking from the firehouse.  Meetings are numerous and suck up time at a prodigious rate.  Email comes gushing forth in relentless fashion and inboxes become archives.  "I will get to that email" is a plaintive cry from the oppressed masses.  If we are traveling across time zones, then sleep patterns are shattered and we enter a zombie like twilight zone but still have to function anyway. When we get finally back home we are still trying to assimilate with our usual everyday challenges, but in a jet lag induced vegetative state.


We are not delegating enough.  We know we should do more of it but we don't.  We are holding on to too much control and this is ramping up our workload.  In tougher times we had to jump in and keep things afloat.  After the refloat though, we haven't eased off on the controls and are still doing too much ourselves.  Where is the time to work on those things that only we can do?  


Projects are bright shiny objects that fascinate our minds.  We already have a big bag of them to carry around, but we keep stuffing more into the same bag. Our intellect and our imagination make us constantly hungry to do more and more interesting things and we do.  The hours of the day don't grow to match our hunger, so things start well and then drift.  We pull back the edge of the carpet and there they all are - projects started but never finished.  Stacked up there out of sight and out of mind because they have been replaced by a newer sexier beau.


We never get to any perfect harmony with our team.  The ones we want to keep move on to greener fields, the ones we want to move on, we wind up keeping by default.  The turnover means time and expertise is lost and we are in a state of constant starting again.  This kills progress.  The current candidate friendly market in Japan means that we are in a permanent recruit and retain mode.  We have to put a higher value on continuity, than in the past, because the lag between losing people and hiring new staff gets longer. Hiring gets harder and more expensive.


None of this looks like it is going to improve any time soon.  The ability to deal with this level of complexity becomes more important.  The agile yet focused will win in this game.  A good leverage point is heightened self-awareness.  Knowing what is important and then giving that time is a differentiator. We need to have a “true north” in mind, against which to align ourselves, or we will find ourselves adrift in a sea of confusion.  

The fog of busyness needs a clear counterpoint.  We need to reestablish who we are, what we want and where we are going.  This sounds simple. But if I ask you right now, can you pull out your written down game plan for your future? Can you articulate the steps needed to keep moving forward? Have you clearly nominated what success actually looks like.


“I want 10 million dollars”, is too vague. What do you want it for, how are you going to use it, how does this translate into your personal happiness or satisfaction?


The manic pace of the everyday can distract us and we forget about working on our personal alignment. Ironically, we need to slow down in order to speed up and get more done. We need to re-establish the point of what we are doing.   We need to re-set the starting point and to fix a clear image of the finish line in our minds. We can then swim hard against the pull of busyness with a firm plan in place. The alternative is often being drawn along in the froth and fury of the storm tide.


So stop what we are doing. Intervene in our busyness. Re-connect with who we really are. Reaffirm our direction. Define true north. Make a new plan and follow it.


Engaged employees are self-motivated. The self-motivated are inspired. Inspired staff grow your business but are you inspiring them? We teach leaders and organisations how to inspire their people. Want to know how we do that? Contact me at


If you enjoy these articles, then head over to and check out our "Free Stuff" offerings - whitepapers, guidebooks, training videos, podcasts, blogs. Take a look at our Japanese and English seminars, workshops, course information and schedules.


About The Author

Dr. Greg Story: President, Dale Carnegie Training Japan

In the course of his career Dr. Greg Story has moved from the academic world, to consulting, investments, trade representation, international diplomacy, retail banking and people development. Growing up in Brisbane, Australia he never imagined he would have a Ph.D. in Japanese decision-making and become a 30 year veteran of Japan.


A committed lifelong learner, through his published articles in the American, British and European Chamber journals, his videos and podcasts “THE Leadership Japan Series”, "THE Sales Japan series", THE Presentations Japan Series", he is a thought leader in the four critical areas for business people: leadership, communication, sales and presentations. Dr. Story is a popular keynote speaker, executive coach and trainer.


Since 1971, he has been a disciple of traditional Shitoryu Karate and is currently a 6th Dan. Bunbu Ryodo (文武両道-both pen & sword) is his mantra and he applies martial art philosophies and strategies to business.