Busyness As Usual

I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that for you as a content practitioner, busy is not a temporary state. It is business as usual. You’re under pressure to produce more faster, to sit in meetings, to answer emails, to manage social platforms, to review analytics, and to socialize content to your peers.

I see this every time I start a full-day creative workshop – a whole day of diving deep into creating better strategy. I start by inviting attendees to receive this gift that their company has provided. The gift of this day. The gift of this moment. I say, “Give yourself permission to be here, fully. The tasks that await you will await you at the end of this day. That email from Bob is still going to be there at 4:30 when we adjourn. Ask yourself what happens if Bob doesn’t get his answer until then?”

Many laugh at that. Give myself this moment? I’m busy extinguishing that client fire, posting on social, writing that blog post, attending John’s meeting, answering Bob’s email.

This can lead us to feel sad. Alone. Frustrated. Regretful. We look back at all the missed moments. We see opportunities lost for ourselves while our colleagues enjoy the fruits of their investments in their moments. We rationalize that all our busy moments are leading to something. They must be.

All these moments are roads not taken, to quote the Robert Frost poem. They are the jobs we should have taken, the company we should have invested in, the house we should have bought, or the degree we should have gotten.

There’s an old Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” It’s true for our moments as well. Yes, the best time to have taken that moment was in the past. The second best time is today.

But remember – the road not taken, is not necessarily the one less traveled. They are, indeed, different. We feel the regret because we feel like we missed planting that tree on the road less traveled. We convince ourselves that it would have blossomed. We would be different, more successful. Better off.

Maybe that’s true. Maybe. In reality, it is simply the road – the moment – you didn’t take. It may or may not have been the one less traveled. Let’s not forget that Frost’s poem ends this way:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Frost doesn’t tell us whether the difference was good or bad. The fact that he says he will be telling it with a “sigh” may give us a hint. Maybe his tree didn’t grow.

So take your moments. Invest in your moments. The best time to have taken one may be in the past. The second best time is now. Take the road less traveled, or stay on the road you’re on. But just know that the secret to growing trees is to give yourself the moment to plant seeds.

 

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.