In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers writes, “In order for a ritual to succeed, people have to believe in it…but belief can’t be imposed by the world at large or higher-ups in management. It has to come from within. To change a given habit, people must believe that by changing they’ll gain more than they would by sticking to their old ways.” He goes on to write about Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Virtues’ which were Franklin’s attempt to develop a sort of rigor around improving his life behaviors (which weren’t always terribly salutatory). And then Powers notes something exceptionally important: “The virtues on [Franklin’s] list are positive goals…In effect, when he looked the list over, he would think: ‘Yes, I want to do all these things; they serve my interests.'”
In my teaching and writing about Discovery Stopping, I emphasize the importance of being fully present to those with whom we live and work. In Hamlet’s Blackberry, which I recommend to those interested in a thoughtful treatise on the many sources of and possible solutions for interruptions in our lives, Powers isn’t unrealistic about the important role that technology plays in our lives. What I enjoyed about the book is that he puts technology-based interruptions into a context of history going back all the way to Socrates, Plato and Seneca! However, he takes a long time to get close to offering thoughts that helped me consider possible solutions and this section on Franklin inspired many notes about applying my Stop/Notice/All-In/Play (S.N.A.P.) principles to daily life. In short, I was reminded to keep it positive! Make behavior changes that not only positively impact others but also ME!
When I am “all in” or fully present with my wife, children and colleagues, they feel valued and I am more likely to enjoy the experience with them. Think about being all-in with (fill in the blank). You’re not only hearing the words they speak but also seeing the twinkle (or vacancy) in their eyes and most importantly, ‘hearing’ the message in the space between the spoken words. When I get it right, I walk away from an all-in experience like that feeling really good! I am better prepared to take action, plan, think and improve. Having been fully present in the moment has given me an emotional and practical boost!
So, don’t beat yourself up or let others do so when you realize that you’ve spent more time tapping on your device’s screen than listening or being there for someone else. Rather, turn your intentions into goals that will change your behaviors into ones that will be constructive and positive for others and for YOU! I have ideas for incorporating this concept into practical steps and will share them in future posts.