The Busy Fool

Busy Fool

Readers of The Fourth Moon may recall the parable of The Busy Fool.

A number of people have mentioned to me that they have recognized attributes of The Busy Fool in themselves. I always reassure them that, if we are being completely honest with ourselves, that we have all been The Busy Fool at different stages of our careers.

The trick is to identify the archetype when we see it appear and banish it. Better still, ask others to call out The Busy Fool when they see it in us.

An extract from The Fourth Moon below reminds us of parable of The Busy Fool.

"The Busy Fool keeps himself constantly busy so he never has to see who he really is. The Busy Fool spends years toiling away. He doesn't have to think, plan or develop a strategy. He just does. He doesn't truly help others, foster relationships or invest in other people. He is an island. An island that never stops working. He can't be queried, challenged or attacked for his autocratic style, grumpy demeanor and emotionless state. It would be like attacking Mother Teresa. How can you attack someone that works so hard and so selflessly? What a man."

"But one day The Busy Fool loses his business, gets sick or has to retire. The Busy Fool returns home to his empty house. His second wife left him. His kids know him only as a stranger. He doesn't have any real friends because he was always working. Worse still, he doesn't have any hobbies and interests as these were never developed over 40 years of work. But hang on says The Busy Fool, I have an amount of money that you couldn’t climb over in a lifetime. Unfortunately, The Busy Fool has no family to share it with, friends to spend it with nor hobbies and interests to spend it on. So sad. Just 18 months after stopping work, The Busy Fool dies as an unhealthy lonely man. At his funeral, attended largely by business acquaintances, the priest delivers the eulogy with no family or close friend to deliver it. The priest says he worked hard and was wealthy. No one cries. The coffin leaves. The end."

The principle of the parable.

Don’t be The Busy Fool.

It may seem counterintuitive but don’t create a level of busyness that blocks out opportunity. I see executives that can’t have a meeting for six weeks. Business owners that can never find time for professional or personal development. Entrepreneurs who constantly work sixty plus hours per week can create a vacuum where nothing, or no one, can get in.

Busyness is a form of laziness. 

Being constantly busy allows you to never have to truly face your pressing headaches. Think about that. You can’t meet with your challenging customer because your schedule is full. Can’t see the lawyer to tackle those issues around your terms. Unable to see one of your key team members to discuss their frustrations. 

Being constantly busy also blocks you from seizing opportunities. Can’t hire that new talent because you haven’t got time to interview. Unfortunately can’t meet your key supplier to hear about an emerging supply chain opportunity. No time for that gun website developer either unfortunately. 

You just can’t meet that person because you’re just too…err…busy.


This is limiting and self-destructive behavior that simply won’t allow you to reach your potential. 

Remember also that The Busy Fool might not be you. It could be a business partner or key team member. Once identified, you must discuss this with The Busy Fool sensitively and soon. If you don’t, you all lose.

A smart business owner once told me to keep 10-20% (Say 4-8 hours of your working week) of your capacity free on a rolling basis as a minimum. This available capacity allows spontaneous allocation of your time to dealing with both pressing headaches and emerging opportunities.

Do you currently have four to eight hours of capacity as a minimum free each week? 

And what were the most recent headaches spontaneously dealt with or new opportunities scheduled to be explored?

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Darren Bourke

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Cheers, Darren K Bourke