April 5, 2024

Technology and Other Human Things

We can cook a turkey in 15 minutes; send a text around the world with the press of a thumb; watch or listen to anything we want on our smartphones. We are so fortunate. And now we can have a computer create everything. Look at us doing stuff and things with gadgets and doohickeys. We are the coolest.

Media are consumed mostly when we're alone. We don't gather around and answer an email and we don't hover over Josh's phone when he's texting Susan. We may binge watch that show on that streaming platform with our partner. Once a year we may gather at a buddy's house to eat too much and watch the Super Bowl. The rest of the time we are on our devices researching, reading, texting, replying, and searching by ourselves.

Technology, they said, would improve our lives. 

We can buy a car on the internet, learn about penguins on our mobile device, find the best sushi restaurant in Des Moines, and read about an awesome vacation someone else took while sitting on our couch.  

Most of the time we are connecting with each other through all this supposed cool technology while we are by ourselves. I wrote this alone and you're probably reading it while you're alone. I have a friend who hasn't answered his phone in years. He'll respond to my texts almost immediately, but I don't dare suggest an actual conversation. 

Technology, they said, would give us choices.

I remember a restaurant experience when the table next to us had six people all staring at their phones. Their meals arrived and phones weren't put away; they were placed beside plates and glanced at often. Their bill arrived and it looked like the dance of the smartphones as each of them transferred their amount to the one guy who tapped the server's machine to pay it in full. 

Technology, as it turns out, has created more depression and less human interaction. We are checking our phones yet miss what that guy said about the thing. I got a text; it must be important. I'd better check my email; I may have missed something. What's on my smart device is clearly way more important than any of this human stuff. 

I'm sure AI will solve it all.


March 18, 2024

Emotional Fracture

They put a cast on a broken ankle; they give medication to the patient recovering from surgery; they prescribe pain pills for someone with chronic migraines. And yet, the stigma remains with emotional health because you can't see it on an MRI. 

 Key facts from the World Health Organization;
  • Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression. 
  • Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide. 
  • More women are affected by depression than men. 
  • Depression can lead to suicide. 
  • There is effective treatment for mild, moderate, and severe depression. 
Check the Math 

Depression isn't a one stop emotional shop; it is a range. I deal with emotional setbacks often. I work; I have friends; I'm in a wonderful relationship; I function and carry on. I guess that's mild but it doesn't make the struggle any less for me. A past bad work experience; that presentation eleven years ago; that test I messed up at college. 

The amount of time I spend beating myself up over things no one even noticed, is exhausting. Some say it's not logical, but it's no less real to me. We need to stop messing around. My emotional hurdles are just as critical as your broken leg. This isn't a 5% thing; this isn't a "them" issue; this affects all of us. Something to ponder if this effects all of us.

Let's share some help for each other. __________________________________________________________________

March 4, 2024

Fear Factory

The topic of what makes a great leader has been debated since humans could say the word. When you think of the values a mentor has brought to you, it's often those intangible aspects which are more difficult to define.

In business, it's tough to be thrown into a new role when you may be good at the work but not as well versed at the people part. It’s easy to point to those who have handled leadership with grace but it's not a skill you learn in short order. And it can certainly be a balancing act when the company continually reminds you profit is the goal.

Fear can be why strong leadership is often as rare as great customer service.

I could be wrong. 

February 19, 2024

Mindful Nothing

We live busy lives often being busy doing busy things with others getting busy on busy tasks. But how often do we take time for think time or better yet, do nothing?

Andy Puddicombe is the co-founder of Headspace, a project that aims to demystify meditation and make it applicable to everyday life. He is a Clinical Meditation Consultant and former Buddhist monk.

For more than a decade, Andy’s meditation training took him all over the world. He became a fully ordained monk at a Tibetan Monastery in the Indian Himalayas. In his TEDTalk, Puddicombe explains the importance of making time to do nothing.


February 3, 2024

Costa Rico or Costco?

I do wake up at 4am wondering if my life is fulfilled. It may not be the same time on the clock for you, but I'm going to guess I'm not alone. I worked with a guy early in my career who was instrumental in my professional development. He was awesome, in fact. And he passed away last year. He was about 15 years older than me and now I'm thinking about what will I do in the next decade and a half that will matter. 

I get lost. I get scared. Sometimes I don't know what to do next. Occasionally I forget that I do have gifts to give the world and just to keep going. I can say the same for you. There are times when I wonder if it will all work out. Of course, worrying with no action won't get me anywhere, so I give myself a mental kick in the backside and keep going. 

What Have We Learned? 

I spoke with a colleague this week I hadn't spoken with in probably a decade. She and her partner are thinking seriously about dumping their careers, selling their house, getting rid of most of their stuff, and moving to Costa Rica to help others. That's so cool and brave. 

I don't suggest we have to go to those lengths to find happiness, but doing the same crap we've been doing for the last couple of decades may not be working either. So yeah, there are early mornings when I wonder what I could be doing to better my life and the lives of others. And that's okay because I will be more worried when I stop thinking about those things. 


January 22, 2024

Tell Us a Story

Stories give our lives perspective. They offer context to concepts we share. If we present a new idea that resonates with the audience, it holds more credibility. If I share an idea with you, you don’t just digest what I'm saying; your beliefs, perceptions, and point of view come into play. Your experience and bias is always part of the equation.

The same happens with team culture. If you work in an environment that encourages sales at all costs but you prefer building relationships first, your time will be challenged. Those who measure success solely by financial gain may tell you to just make more calls because their perspective is relationships are a numbers game. 

That's not how we do it here 

If your leadership style is to give a good portion of your time to help the development of your people to in turn grow the bottom line; someone who tells you the best way to motivate people is through fear, will be a recipe for conflict. 

The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. They feed our narrative, perspective, and beliefs. They can become our truth regardless of reality or facts. It gets trickier when you have culture comprised of different demographics, psychographics, or points of view. 

What's your opinion?   

This is not to suggest teams succeed when everyone thinks the same way - just the opposite - but if we become rigid, we can close ourselves off from even better ideas. 

If you have a belief embedded deep inside you, it will require enormous energy for me to first convince you another stance and then share my view. Multiple that dynamic by hundreds or even thousands in an organization and you can quickly see how the power of story can morph into complication. The dangerous part is this bias can hide inside what some may mistake as company culture. 

Someone else's view might give us needed perspective. 

January 9, 2024

Engineered Pasta

If you have worked a day in your life, it is fairly safe to say you have worked alongside others. In some cases, those experiences have been enjoyable while others have not. You may have had to endure an arrogant selfish boss while other situations have been filled with giving collaborative coworkers.

We seem to enjoy looking at things “on paper” but they get all wobbly when we add the human element and often it’s because we are unclear about the mandate. Often there is a struggle among conflicting agendas or someone comes in and plays the “I’m the boss” card. None of these scenarios are effective, productive, or long lasting business success models. However, sadly they are far too common.

But what happens when you ask a group of people to build a structure out of spaghetti, string, and a marshmallows?

© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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