Ever been lost in a car on the way to an important event? If so, then you know that people are the only animals that speed up when they’re lost or confused. It’s only as a last resort that we’ll finally hit the brakes, put the car in park, and set about the humbling task of asking for directions. The sad truth is that many of us live our lives the same way: lost, directionless, and never slowing down enough to find the real answers we need. Unfortunately, slowing down and doing less are foreign solutions for today’s problems.
For readers who are finally ready to stop speeding along and start slowing down enough to find some answers, John Busacker’s new book, Fully Engaged: How to Do Less and Be More, offers practical advice on how to do just that. In a world full of countless options and disorienting decisions, we have to allow our internal GPS to stop and recalculate the direction of our life. As we do so, we’ll find greater abundance, contentment, and peace of mind.
An interview with John Busacker, author of Fully Engaged
Q: What are the biggest barriers that keep people from leading Fully Engaged lives?
The majority of people I encounter on a daily basis—leaders, coaches, parents, students—fall into one of two disengaged traps: Either they are overwhelmed by buying into the lie that “More is better”. As a result, they are on the verge of burnout. Or, they have let their relationships, work, spiritual life and personal routines get worn into a rut and are in danger of rust out—being underwhelmed by the daily pattern of their life. Both traps prevent a person from living a Fully Engaged life.
Q: In Fully Engaged, you mention a family trip to Tanzania, E Africa. What principles of living did you learn on that trip and how did it shape your book?
One day we got completely lost in the Serengeti. People are the only creatures that speed up when lost or overwhelmed. Our guide, Moses, did the exact opposite. He came to a complete stop, reoriented himself, and then set out more slowly in the direction of our destination. The key principle is that we need a “personal GPS”—a personal navigation system that allows us to monitor what really matters—our values, gifts and sense of calling—and then empowers us to move in that direction.
Q: How do you determine which principles should be present or absent from your life?
It may sound a little hokey, but I once heard of the 5 C’s of Guidance. They seem to be a complete list of key principles:
- Commanding Scripture—What does Scripture say?
- Compelling Spirit—How is the Holy Spirit nudging me?
- Counsel of others—What are my trusted advisors saying to me?
- Common sense—Does this just make sense?
- Circumstantial signs—What is the evidence for this direction in my life?
Q: What’s the difference between doing less and just being lazy?
Woody Allen once famously commented that, “80% of life is just showing up.” It’s a funny statement, but dead wrong in my opinion. We need to show up and be present. Which means, in many cases that we need to examine what we are showing up for in the first place. Being Fully Engaged is saying “No” to the wrong things so that that we can say “Yes” to things that are in the sweet spot of our gifts, passion, calling and values. Laziness, on the other hand, is saying “No” to most everything so that we can just hang out or do as little as possible. Laziness is being Fully Disengaged.
Q: How did you come to the conclusion that Awareness, Alignment and Action were the key components to a Fully Engaged life?
I like patterns. The pattern of Fully Engaged is an inside-out approach to living. It begins with Awareness—Am I living my life with purpose and passion? Then, Alignment—Does what I have and what I’m doing match what I really want out of my life? And finally, Action—How do I consistently and courageously move toward an exhilarating future?
When we live the opposite way—from the outside-in—we are at the mercy of always having to measure up to what others think we should be or do, which is a losing proposition.
Q: As a leadership consultant, how have top-level leaders reacted to your call to “DO less and BE more?”
Some leaders don’t buy it! They really do believe that “more is always better”. They have the point of view that “I had to work my way up the food chain and pay the price for years, so you should too.” Unfortunately, in many cases, it costs the leader his or her health, relationships or vitality. Mature leaders and enlightened companies are waking up to the fact that disengaged workers are a real bottom-line drag on the organization. Leaders and employees that can effectively tap into values, calling, dreams that fuel vision and true community are much more likely to have success with a deep sense of fulfillment in their work and life. And, they are more engaging of others.
Q: What kinds of hard lessons have you learned on your way to living a Fully Engaged life?
I wish I could say that I have this mastered myself or that I’ve learned these lessons the easy way! The truth is that most of my own wisdom comes accompanied by scar tissue. It took both burning out and rusting out to teach me to be more Fully Engaged in my own work. It took some dumb financial choices to learn to be more Fully Engaged in my stewardship of money. It took a real health scare years ago to teach me to say “No” with more courage to overwork. I wish I was less of a remedial student in the school of living a Fully Engaged life, but unfortunately I often learn what to do by doing the opposite!
Q: At the end of Chapter 4, you have developed a system that helps people determine their calling in life. You call this system Calling Cards®. What are Calling Cards and how do you use them?
My leadership consulting firm, The Inventure Group, developed Calling Cards a number of years ago. We have since printed and distributed 60,000 boxes of them. The system grew out of coaching conversations we were having with people at all stages and ages to help them discern the intersection of their giftedness (What are you really good at?) and passion (What do you love to do?). Calling Cards are a simple, practicalway to help people find that intersection and then orient their life and work in such a way so as to consistently live out their calling.
Q: Is it really possible to be more successful by doing less?
Yes, but it is countercultural. Most of the messaging and marketing that we are inundated with each day is the exact opposite—DO more in order to BE more. The most impactful leaders and people I have encountered in life however, are seldom overcommitted. They are disciplined in their ability to determine what really matters and then stick with it. They resist the gravitational pull to be big just for bigness sake and instead focus on investing their best energy into the right people, activities and pursuits. The result is a Fully Engaged life that has eternal impact.
Fully Engaged: How to Do Less and Be More
by John Busacker
Summerside North ~ May 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-609361150/Hardcover/144 pages/$14.99