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I’m Not Busy

I’m Not Busy

I am wondering what your reaction is when you read the headline to this week’s column. Some of you might be thinking, “Are you kidding me, season in Southwest Florida is the busiest time of year?” You may be wondering if I am slacking off in my job or just not receiving invitations to all the happenings in our region.

Everywhere I go these days when I ask how someone is doing, 9 out of 10 times they will express how busy they are and seem to be on the verge of collapsing on the spot. Sometimes extra words are thrown in to make the point- “I am so busy, incredibly busy, extremely busy, or never busier” are among the chorus of the tribe of busy.

People seem to perceive that I too am busy and want to welcome me to the club. When someone sends me an email or leaves a voicemail they almost always open with “ I know you are so busy but….” and then take it from there. I have to admit until very recently I almost wore being busy as a badge of honor. I thought is was a positive that people saw me as busy because it meant so many exciting things were going on at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I could barely keep up.

Several weeks ago our team at the Foundation discussed this idea of busy and how we perceived the word. We were checking in to make sure we never used it as an excuse or promoted the idea that our busyness kept us from serving the community.

We considered other ways of expressing the energizing work we are engaged in. Our full lives don’t drain us but rather give us purpose. The team committed to moving away from claiming, “I’m busy” as a moniker of success.

I thought the conversation was interesting but it really hit home over an omelet breakfast that I have the pleasure of sharing once a year with a philanthropist and former volunteer at the Foundation. This gentleman is a winter resident with a very full calendar but he always makes the time to see me between singing in a choir, playing golf, his consulting business, and various volunteer positions at local nonprofits- that’s right he is very busy.

We had a wonderful time together, catching up personally and professionally and at the end of our allotted hour (he always keeps it to one hour- I would linger longer) I commented on how much I enjoy and look forward to our yearly breakfast.

He smiled and told me he almost didn’t call this year and even after the date was set on the calendar he almost called to cancel. He was worried I would be too busy.

I realized this perception came very close to ending something that I look forward to and value. I wondered how many other opportunities I might be missing when I express how busy I am to others. How many people are not reaching out to me and how many I do not connect with because I think they are on the busy track of life.

Yes, my life is full and for that I am extremely grateful. But I’m not busy. I would love to hear from you, email me at iamlistening.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More