I had business travel recently. When I fly, I look forward to my time to just reflect, think, maybe nap, read, and just be. No phone or computer. It is a rare gift.
However, I discovered that my seat mates were anything but in a state of reflection and just being. One gentleman juggled between two cell phones and a tablet. A woman came on board with her arms full of stuff attempting to respond to the numerous texts that were “pinging” constantly. When she settled into her seat, out came her tablet. She admitted the texts were a pest, but what could she do about it. I said she could not respond to them. She laughed, but shared that all her gadgets do leave little time to just be quiet.
I hear from clients that they have no time to just think! Even if they did have time, would they know how to be in a state of reflection? Could it be we’ve lost the art of reflective thought?
For centuries, societies revered their great thinkers. They would ponder the issues of the day and would reveal to others what their reflections wrought. A perfect image of this is Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker. What would today’s Thinker look like? Might he be holding a phone in one hand and juggling a laptop on his lap?
Teddy Wayne, an author, wrote a piece in The Sunday New York Times recently called “The End of Reflection.” He contends that “with devices distracting us, opportunities for introspection are becoming infrequent.”
Daniel Goleman has written many times that a core trait of great leaders is their ability to be introspective, to develop a deep sense of themselves. One does not do this by tweeting or gathering data from Google. As Wayne stated, “The internet typically rewards speed over all else.”
A mindful leader recognizes the immense value of reflection, to just think, and give time for contemplation on whatever is in the moment. To give time to discern issues and allow ideas or solutions to possibly surface. This is where inspiration will arise at times. As Wayne states in his conclusion, “It’s hard to imagine a postmodern update called ‘The Tweeter’ being quite so inspirational.”
So how do you manage your devices so they serve us when needed
rather than being a distraction?