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Crazy ❌ Busy like a fox

build your brilliant business dino tartaglia the workroom Sep 13, 2021

 By Dino Tartaglia.

In the mid-80s, an American drama-cum-sitcom, very much of the style of that era, hit the airwaves.

It was named after the classic expression ‘Crazy like a fox’, which gained currency (reputedly) when the humourist S. J. Perelman used it in 1944 as the title of his book.

In the show, Harry Fox, a PI, played by the then very well-known Jack Warden, was a crafty detective who drove his son, a pretty straight-laced, by-the-book lawyer, nuts.

Harry seems to just constantly ‘do’ stuff, and his son is always agonising about how he breaks (or might break) the rules without forethought. Of course, he really IS an old fox, and he usually has a cunning plan ...

As it happens, the expression comes from appearing insane but actually being crafty - like a fox - doing things that ostensibly make no sense, until your agenda is revealed and those bemused by your ‘crazy’ actions have the real context.

It’s often misunderstood, or perhaps never examined as an expression, because that would ask us to think, and thinking - properly - is arguably the hardest work we do as Business Owners and Entrepreneurs. Working hard is much easier ;) - which is probably why we do so much of it instead.

In fact, that gives us a perfect talking point for being ‘Busy’ and constantly embattled.


Being ‘Busy’ isn’t a Physical Condition ...

If we examine the ‘Crazy like a fox’ idea, there’s usually a plan and the ‘craziness’ and vortex of activity often associated with this phrase reveals itself.

But not so if we flip this idea around and look at ‘Busyness’, and sure as heck not with ‘Busywork’ - that name we give to work that has little-to-no impact on your progress or the progress of your business towards What Matters Most to you.

Here’s the hard truth:
‘Busy’ is NOT your physical reality. Busy is a mentality (what many will term ‘mindset’). Busy is, literally, a state of mind, a belief about your current condition or status that typically affects your thinking and obscures the paths to useful solutions to break free of the resulting Busyness.

So, it self-perpetuates.

It often surfaces as a manifestation of overwhelm, which in its simplest form is typically a packed diary or a never-ending to-do list.

But, at its root, Busy flows from a lack of insight, of awareness, of perspicacity ... of wisdom, if you will.

‘Busy’ as a mentality is also rooted most often in some form of fear. It’s a function of not knowing (or being confident in) what works, what you should be focused on and/or having the capacity to do that (what we call ‘XQ’ or Execution Intelligence [like IQ, but for getting stuff done]).

Busy is covering all your bases - trying to do it all - precisely because you don’t (yet) know what works. Busy is working harder because you can’t face the truly hard work of dealing with things you’re not ready to tackle.

Busy is not having boundaries in place, saying ‘no’ to things you inherently know you shouldn’t take on or allow, and avoiding the scary stuff because it’s, quite frankly, easier in the moment to hide in yet more work, diversion, or procrastination.

For example, when was the last time you felt amazing about the thought of massively increasing your prices?

Is this hitting home?

Busy leads to Busywork, and this is the outward sign that we’ve unwittingly trapped ourselves.

But do you want to know what the worst thing about ‘Busy’ is?

You let it DEFINE you.

It gives rise to an Identity issue: ‘I AM Busy.’ Literally, ‘I am a person who is defined by Busyness, by always being busy with something.’


Shifting your Identity

As the late, great Jim Rohn told me and a select group of devotees in a small hotel conference room in a leafy part of the UK some years ago:

‘You don’t just tell your kids they’re in a mess and leave them in the mess! You show them how to get out of the mess. Now, you don’t do that for them - at least not immediately, that’s not helpful - but you show them the way out.’

So, paying heed to the great man’s wisdom, what can we do about this Identity issue you have?

Well, as with anything that requires change, the first step is awareness of the issue, or need for change (pretty sure we have that one nailed by now, don’t you think?).

But then, we need Clarity - getting clear on what this thing is, what needs to change, how we can best start that and make the change process sustainable, so we can avoid dropping into old patterns.

And then, a Plan of action and the capacity to get to work and stay on track with those changes.

When I was in my 30s, I was consumed with Busyness. Not necessarily Busywork - I had a pretty good handle on what I should be doing with my time - but there was just ALWAYS something else to do, and never enough time to do it in.

You feeling me here?

Yup, I’m guessing you get this completely.

So, what changed?

Well, strangely, it was the growth of the business. We went from being just me and a couple of engineers to a staff of 25 in very short order.

The plain truth is that I technically got WAY busier as there was a staggering increase in the work that the business had to do, and I needed to be all over it.

But actually, the reverse happened. We had way more things to do so I should have felt and been, incredibly busy.

Instead, I got really, really good at identifying the things I needed to do that had impact, and in avoiding or saying ‘no’ to those things that were unnecessary or wasteful of my time and focus.

Actually, as a team, we all got better at this.

This meant that 7 months into the second year of growth, I was buzzing off work on a Friday immediately after our morning team meeting and weekly round-up (unless there was a key thing to tackle that specifically required my involvement).

So, what changed in me?

Simply, I became less afraid of ballsing it all up and of making seriously bad decisions. I stopped fretting and prevaricating and began the process of learning how to be a better Business Owner, instead of just a great engineer who happened to have a business.

I began thinking more effectively, asking better and more effective questions ... getting to the root of each problem we saw, figuring out what worked in our marketing and what wasted our time and money. And as I became more aware (and less fearful of misstepping), I shared this and embedded this in the team.

So, their wisdom and that capacity to know what to do and what to avoid started to grow.

Over time, as we had more and more to do, we became infinitely better at managing it as a business, so I ended up having less to do to earn more and have a greater impact.

That all started with a shift of Identity from ‘I AM Busy’ to asking, ‘How do I become more effective?’


Let’s be crystal clear: running a business of any size and persuasion is hard.

But being ‘Busy’ just means that you’ve strapped yourself to the altar of Working Harder, which is a route to burnout.

I sincerely hope that what I’ve shared with you here helps you to understand that IF you do the work on yourself and IF you shift your beliefs and Identity from being a person who is ‘Busy’, it really can (and does) get easier and better.


Focus on ‘Better’

At Success Engineers our sole focus is to help you Build a Better Business.

We do this together by showing you how to Grow Better, Build Better and BE Better, and supporting you through that growth. Because ALL change for the better starts with behavioural and personal change, and no one does that successfully on their own, not if they’re in business for the long game.

You’ll get plenty of help and support within TFCEO community and TFCEO membership programme.

But if you need more involved and tailored help with this, and especially if you want to get to where you need to be faster, click on the link to come and join us also in Success Engineers.

We’re about to close the doors for the 2021 launch intake of The Excellerator, our programme designed to help you build a thriving business around Being Brilliant at What You Do.

Check out the link and see if it feels like a fit for you where you are on your journey right now.

And if you’ve got questions about anything I’ve covered here, just shout! I’m pretty responsive.

To your inevitable success.


Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do. 

In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most. 

You can find Dino in our FB Group , on his  website or on any of these other locations; Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram |PodCast - Back Bedroom to Big Business



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