Years ago, you’d walk the streets of New York and see homeless folks all over the place, many with mental problems, muttering to themselves, or talking loudly at no one or at everyone or at each person who passed.
It was disconcerting at minimum; intimidating, frightening or depressing at times.
These days, a lot of the homeless problem there seems to have gone away – I can’t tell you why. But they’ve been replaced by a better-dressed population who appear just as addled…they rush through the streets, all talking loudly, seemingly to no one. And this population has expanded from city streets to airports, supermarkets, theater lobbies, everywhere. Even public bathrooms.
Sometimes I don’t realize they are talking on their invisible phones and I think they are talking to me and I respond. They think I’m an idiot. I know they are.
People are now plugged in and connected non-stop from eyes opening to eyes closing, iPod in one ear, invisible phone in another, computer and TV integrated, text messaging, checking e-mail, ad nauseum.
They think that’s making them more productive. It is not, anymore than running faster in the wheel gets the caged hamster anywhere. In fact, it makes them less productive simply because they are less in control. Less in control of their time, their order of priorities, their very thoughts. Less in control of the environment in which they sell and communicate.
Contrary to simplistic interpretation, I am not anti-technology. I like using it to make money, solve problems or enhance productivity. But that’s not what’s happening for most people.
In his best and most important book, ‘Grow Rich With Peace Of Mind’, Napoleon Hill wrote of having his phone disconnected to shield himself from a rising tide of intrusion he could not control. He preferred using it only to make calls, not to receive them (just as I do, all these years later.) Imagine what he’d think of what the telephone has become: an out of control octopus.
Those who teach and sell “time management” often say ‘time is money’ and everybody conceptually concurs – although few actually treat it as such; and they often say that your income reflects your use and value of your time….but the precise truth is, your income reflects your control of your time. And you really want to pay close attention to who (or what) is in control of or interfering with your control of your time…your energy, your thoughts, your opportunity to perform whatever functions you perform at peak performance.
All successful people fight, constantly, to regain control they let slip out of their grasp from one day to the next, one relationship to the next, one project to the next. It gets away; I get it back. It gets loose; I round it up and fence it back in. That’s the way it is.