Although I consider myself competent in many areas, I keep having breakdowns around technology. I know that I am of the generation that didn’t grow up with the technological wizardry of today’s world. I am uncomfortable with much of it; perhaps this is why I sometimes feel as if I am a “magnet” for meltdowns. I allocate time for projects and find that I end up spending it on “fixing” or managing a technology problem instead. This past weekend I simply could not avoid feeling crushed by the technology machine….
First, I spent over an hour entering data into an online invitation site and then pushed the “save” button, to no avail. Another hour went by trying to figure out how to do a “workaround” so I wouldn’t lose everything. The site was “down” and being serviced. I left the computer on, hoping to salvage my data and time as there was simply no way to save the work. Unfortunately, I get to “re-do” the entire project again.
The next day, my otherwise completely reliable, relatively new printer, refused to spout ink on a page. I reset, rebooted and reacted (a lot!), when it dawned on me:
“I’m an analog leader living in a digital world!”
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I don’t use a computer, printer, cell-phone, tablet, text, tweet, or use social media. I do. What I have found is that if I am not careful, these things end up encroaching on what I consider to be my real work (which is not to tinker with or fix the technology apparatus du jour)!
How does this apply to leadership?
For me it’s simple. I must continually remind myself to respond and not react. Because I get frustrated with how much time it takes for me to make all these tools “work” for me (and not the other way around), I saw a blog post coming on….
First, I see the pattern. Technology and I are not comfortable friends. Whenever something breaks on me, I first need to breathe deeply and calm down my skittish sympathetic nervous system (already on high alert whenever technology fails me).
Here are 5 questions I use to re-shape my mindset –and my actions:
- What is my REAL work? Is the thing I am engaged in “on purpose” with that?
- What can I do about the problem?
- Is there a request I can make of someone else
- Is there a way around it?
- What can I learn (and remember) for the future when this may happen again?
If the above fail, is there a Millenial or Gen X’er nearby???
I realize that I am living in a world in which technology is the mainstay of how much work gets done. Yet how many of us wouldn’t trade in our gadgets for some basic analog equipment that works reliably and easily?
Are our lives actually better, or are we enslaved to our own inventions?
Perhaps I am in the minority of people who ponder these questions. Here’s what I know for sure:
Since technology isn’t going anywhere, the only thing I can change is how I respond to the endless array of “therapeutic irritations” it presents to me.
I invite you to share your experiences and leadership learning around technology here.