6 Stock Expressions Every Leader Should Stop Using

4. I’m Busy

In many circles, the #1 response people give to “How are you?” is “I’m busy.

What’s up with that?

Whatever happened to “I’m doing really well” or “You know, things are a little challenging, thanks for asking” or “I’m great. How are you?”

Everyone you meet is busy these days. Even retired people.

So why is saying you’re busy not the best way to respond to a simple greeting?

Well, first, how does being busy help or engage the other person? It doesn’t.

But more importantly, mediocre leaders wear busyness as a badge of honorLook at how busy I am. I must be important. Before you think I’m judging, I used to wear busyness as a badge of honor when I was in my 30s. Then I burned out.

Busyness is not a sign of effectiveness. It’s a sign you can’t manage your life. So why tell people you’re not effective?

If you feel too busy, do something about it. Then you won’t feel compelled to tell anyone how busy you feel.

5. I Can Squeeze That In

I was talking to a leader this week that’s making great progress.

His former approach to time management was to squeeze as much in as possible. He said his old mantra literally was “I can squeeze that in.”

It was consistently becoming more difficult to do because his church is growing by leaps and bounds. That strategy has a lid: Eventually, you can’t squeeze anything else in because nobody’s making any more time.

Fortunately, he realized he just couldn’t keep squeezing things in. If you abandon this approach, you’ll see great gains as well.

Instead, he’s learned to say no nicely (I show you how in the course), to carefully assess his priorities and from that, he determines what he’s going to do and not going to do.

You can’t squeeze everything in. And if you do, it will eventually squeeze you so hard there’s nothing left.

Surprisingly, when you stop trying to squeeze everything in, your capacity as a leader doesn’t shrink; it grows.

6. I Just Can’t

A final challenge with overwhelm is that it leaves us feeling like we can’t.

And so we end up turning down great opportunities by saying things like “I just can’t.”

My guess is that even recently, you’ve probably said I can’t to something you really wanted to do. Like maybe a family night, or a vacation, or a promotion, or an expansion, or some meaningful time with God, or training for that half marathon.

Want to hear the bad news? You can.

You really can.

As Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, says, you can do anything, just not everything.

Everything competes with anything. When your priorities are confused and you’ve chosen everything over anything, your dreams die.

If you stop saying I just can’t and start admitting that you actually can, you will begin to clear your life of the lower value things that are robbing you of what could bring you the highest value.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.