Have you ever queued up to get into a bar or club that has a one in, one out policy? When a venue reaches capacity, the one in, one out policy is a very simple, effective method of regulating the number of people inside. The only way for a new person to enter is for a current person to leave. The bar never gets overcrowded. Brilliant.
Imagine how different schools and other workplaces would be if they applied a strict one in, one out policy to new programs, initiatives, or procedures. Wouldn’t it be great if the only way for a cool new idea to be adopted was if an equivalent redundancy or inefficiency could be hunted down and deleted.
Not only would our organisation become more refined over time, but the system would never get overcrowded or bloated. Brilliant.
The Tebetan term lelo loosely translates into English as ‘laziness’. But lelo is a specific form of laziness which relates to doing idle activities with no concern for virtue. Whilst lelo can refer to lazing around, procrastinating or watching too many YouTube videos instead of pursuing a virtuous life, there is a modern form of lelo that those of us who love our work are more at risk of.
As we become immersed in the working week the number of ‘things to do’ can easily push us beyond our limits. Instead of mindfully choosing how we spend our time, we instead switch to ‘triage-mode’ – frantically trying to manage our inbox and dedicating time to ‘urgent’ and ‘overdue’ tasks. Although this doesn’t really sound like ‘laziness’ it is, in a sense.
In the same way that mindless YouTube videos can take us away from spending our time on rich, meaningful engagement, so too ‘busyness’ at work can disconnect us from that which brings meaning to our lives. We take false comfort in the feeling of ‘getting things done’. Clearing our email can feel like we’re moving life forward – when in fact it is often just another revolution in an endless cycle. Sometimes it is easier – lazier – just to keep the wheel spinning rather than to step away and reorientate.
Interestingly, the Tebetan word vīrya, meaning ‘diligence’ is seen as the opposite to lelo. When we’re being diligent, we’re working hard in pursuit of our values. When we’re busy, we’re just working hard. That does seem a little lazy.
So if you haven’t already, try to refrain from using the term ‘busy’. Busyness is something to avoid if we can. Let’s keep working hard but let’s aim for diligence instead.