Some of you may remember G and J, the Blockheads, who were characters in Gumby’s cartoon show. They were in trouble most of the shows, with only one way to do anything. In our immediate gratification society, with the highest pressure on productivity and achievement, I wonder if we are becoming Blockheads about our leadership. In particular, I wonder how often you use the phrase, “no time”, in response to an ask from someone.

First, the response says the ask isn’t a priority. If it was a priority to you, you would have the time. Time is finite, and how we invest it is our demonstration of priority. Simple. More complex is the chemistry of “no time”, which is a cortisol response — a stress response — which leads you to react instead of respond. Additionally, “no time” seeds doubts of trust — who can I trust if this person doesn’t understand how pressured I am with my time? One last piece — “no time” is often the easy response to de-prioritizing something that is conflict-laden. What do you avoid because of the hard conversation involved in it?

The antidote is to choose different words, which changes all the rest of it. Next time you are approached with “one more thing”, try using priority instead of time as your measure. “Hmmm, I’m not sure where that fits into my priorities this week, month, year, day, etc.” opens a conversation, a relationship, and opportunity. It also removes any Blockheads from showing up!