Are You a Busy Bee or Just Buzzing Around?

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My last morning ride of the autumn was on a classic Indian summer day.  It was sunny and comfortably warm.  The sky was azure blue.  I was grateful for the gift of another opportunity to saddle my horse in such accommodating weather.  After a while on the trails, I dropped the reins to allow my Dolce to go where he pleased to graze.  I respect my horse.  Our relationship is a partnership and after we ride a trail of my choosing, I like him to have time to choose his own forage and to just be a horse.

Busy Bees

This particular morning I noticed he was grazing on a weed sometimes called “Long-bristled Smartweed.”  It thrives each fall on his farm and he seeks it out each year.  Just as I was considering this, I noticed the many bees also enjoying the Long-bristled Smartweed.  There were dozens of them all within a one-foot radius of his head!  My first reaction was to move us along.  Horses have many nerve endings around their mouths and noses and I could only imagine that being stung there would be terribly painful for him – and dangerous for me if he bolted or reared.  But then, I realized that we’d been there for some time.  Those bees were not paying him any attention at all.  They were entirely engrossed in the nectar of the pink buds.  They had what to get done and they were doing it.  And the bees were silent.  There was no buzz at all from these very busy bees.  No buzzing and no stinging.  This got me thinking …


I often hear people say, “I’m so busy!” You call or text or email and they first assert, “I’ve been so busy …”  You invite them and they say, “Sorry, busy.”  Busy, busy, bizzzzyyy.  My students almost all tell me repeatedly that they are “so busy.”  Then there are the people in my life who never use that word.  Here’s the interesting thing: they are the most committed, devoted and productive people I know.  When I call or text or write them they are attentive, present, focused, decisive and efficient.  They’re the ones with demanding careers, elaborate pursuits, families and time-consuming hobbies and avocations.  I don’t notice them multi-tasking, but they certainly have multiple roles in their lives.  Beside my close family members and friends, many of those who come to mind are the experts I represent at my speakers bureau.  I have such respect for them.  They are devoted spouses, parents and grandparents.  They run firms, write books, conduct elaborate research, attend professional conferences, give interviews and deliver speeches and travel the world in doing so – literally.  Their deadlines are hard deadlines.  They are genuinely “busy.”  But they don’t describe themselves that way.  They tend to focus on the matter at hand.  My favorite vignette comes from my speaker whom I texted, “Have 5 minutes for a chat?”  He texted back, “Yep.  10:00.  Cell.”  It was already 10:40 in the morning so I asked, “Tonight or 10:00 a.m.  tomorrow?”  His reply: “Tonight.  On midnight flight to Moscow.”  He’s busy.  That kind of rigor and efficiency are the norm for my speakers.

When I returned Dolce to his paddock that morning, there was a swarm of bees by the gate and I heard them before I saw them.   They were flying around and their collective buzz was audible – even loud.  They just didn’t seem to be doing anything – anything but buzzing, that is.  We avoided them.  This time, I felt we could be stung and late for where we needed to be next.  These were not “busy bees” but “buzzing” ones.

Lisa Bernard is now the President of SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that represents unbiased experts on national, cyber and global security matters or briefings, talks and distinguished lectures before audiences with an interest in keeping the level of discourse high.  See more at and  She can be reached at (203) 293-4741 or via email at