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The phrase “No one has a monopoly on busy” is one I seem to use a lot. But last week it was thrown right back at me by a friend who was chasing me (again) for information that she needed — information that would be beneficial to me, too (it’s on its way, Angela!). And my response to her?

“I’m busy.”

In my defence, I’ve been working hard trying to get enough done that I’ll be able to take a well-earned break over Christmas, and come back refreshed in the new year.

But even as I used this all-too-familiar excuse, I could feel how poor it sounded. And it got me thinking about what I regard as the single most important piece of business advice I’ve ever received.

Allow me tell you a story.

It was about three years ago, and I was having one of those weeks. Everything was just a bit too much. So what did I do? Grabbed a glass of wine (or six) with my wine legend mate Andrea Frost, and tried to complain the stress away.

I dumped all of my woes, frustrations, doubts, challenges, and general stresses surrounding my (then) fairly new business right onto her. Once I was done, Andrea turned to me and said:

“Dan. You need to remember, no one asked you to do this.”

I was floored. Silenced. I’d just been dealt a proverbial tsunami of truth.

No one asked me to run one wine event (let alone multiple events in various cities and countries) in the same way no one asked you to plant grapes and make wine. Or open that shop or start that brand or other business. The world will go on quite well without any of us.

We are the only people who decided to do this thing. So it’s up to me to take responsibility for mine and own it, and for you to own yours.

Don’t get me wrong — I get it. Business is a tough, relentless, all-consuming beast. It can be lonely and sometimes all you want to do is scream, “What the FUCK am I doing this for?!”

But we both know we wouldn’t have it any other way because we bloody love what we do. And if you don’t love what you do, then stop doing it right now.

This advice was, for me, truly humbling and brought me back into the present reality. Much like the ancient Roman generals who ordered slaves to stand behind them after a victorious battle and whisper repeatedly, “You are still mortal.”

We are all busy.

We’re all working our butts off trying to get things done and the struggle is very real. But remember, in those moments of small business panic, breathe and whisper the words “No one asked me to do this.” Make it your mantra. Then, regroup and get on with it.

No one has a monopoly on busy. Even at this time of year.

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