Monthly Archives: April 2012

#121 – Antidote to Digital Dependency

I love synchronicity! I’ve written about the risks of our digital lifestyle the past two weeks and the irony of how our reliance on the “smart” capabilities of our digital devices means we are likely compromising our own “smarts,” particularly our ability to focus and our creative capacities. The synchronistic piece is that last Thursday I attended a talk by Kerry Rego, one of Sonoma County’s leading experts in social media and technology training. Her message was a warning. Here are my notes from what she had to say.

Food for Thought from Kerry Rego ~

Life changed with the PC and then even more so with smart phones. Current technology is too much. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We have to set boundaries. Here’s how you can counteract the downside of the digital lifestyle: take care of your health. Put good fuel in your body (eat healthful, nutritious food.) Hand-write personal thank you notes on stationery and mail them. Take time to play. Unplug. Turn off the digital devices. The antidote for technology is nature. Get out in nature. Spend quality time in nature – without your cell phone! I repeat, the antidote is nature.

Question for the day ~

What boundaries do you need to make regarding technology use? Do you have enough time in nature?

The HBR article that I referenced, The Magic of Doing One thing at a Time, continues to be very popular, so for one final time, here’s the link.

A Reminder ~

On another note (yet related in terms of technology use) tomorrow, April 25, is Administrative Professionals Day. These are some of the most capable people I have known. If you have the good fortune to work with one or more, please be sure they are not “unsung heroines/heroes” in your organization. How about a personal, handwritten thank you note? (And be sure they have breaks from their computers.)


#120 – “Preserve your Powers”

Last week’s post on the perils of being continuously connected seemed to have struck a nerve, as in “ouch.” It appears that many of us are wrestling with these issues. Having written about this, it seemed appropriate that I conduct a self-assessment on the subject. Here’s what I learned: although I don’t have the habit of being always “on” via digital devices, I notice that I have developed the habit of checking my email frequently when I’m working in my office. I feel obliged to get back to people as soon as possible. This is good, to a point. What I also noticed is that my curiosity about what new and interesting things (messages/events/ideas/resources/opportunities) may have come my way is very captivating. Consequently, I have resolved to do my critical thinking, strategic thinking and creative work before I let myself explore the bright shiny objects that show up in my inbox.

Food for Thought ~

Some might say “Why make such an issue of this?” Because, I think the “use it or lose it” axiom applies. If we default to primarily using the type of thinking required for reacting to stimuli, we will diminish our individual and collective powers of concentration and focus, our unique and creative capacities to imagine new horizons and dream big dreams, our ability to dedicate our attention and complete a task, our capacity for generating original work. I am reminded that Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” That pretty well sums it up.

Question for the day ~

How might you find ways to maintain (or increase) your personal creative, generative capacities? How does Einstein’s insight apply to you or your organization?

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read the very popular HBR article that I referenced last week, The Magic of Doing One thing at a Time, here’s the link.

Please preserve your creative and generative powers! The world needs them.


#119 – Doing More – Enjoying it Less?

Over the past few years I have been observing a workplace phenomenon with growing concern. I see my clients, their co-workers and employees becoming more stressed and feeling less satisfied with their hard work and long hours. Here’s my take on what’s happening: the impacts of the economic recession have generally led to a “do more with less” context, while at the same time, new technology has enabled an “always on” lifestyle. The increasingly sophisticated capabilities (not to mention, marketing) of mobile devices have bred an expectation that it’s good to be continuously connected. This confluence of factors is having some adverse consequences. We’re learning that the price of continuous connection is higher than we might have realized.

Food for Thought ~

Increasingly, thought leaders on this subject are calling attention to this dilemma. One of the best articles I’ve seen is “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” by Tony Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review. He makes several very helpful suggestions that I hope you will consider and then discuss with your co-workers. Leaders will want to add this issue to their organizations’ productivity and performance agendas. It will require a cooperative team effort to institute workable policies and practices that support true productivity. Here’s the link. For a more in-depth study of this subject, Leslie Perlow’s new book will be published in May, Sleeping with your Smart Phone.

Question for the day ~

How does continuous connection affect your stress and satisfaction levels? How might you address this issue in your organization?

Tuesday Minute with Mary Wins All Star Award!

TMwM has received an All Star Award from Constant Contact, the email service that I use to format and publish this newsletter/blog. The award is based on readership statistics and I am delighted to report that my readership is twice the industry average! Only 10% of their customers receive this award, and this is the second year TMwM has earned this distinction.

Thanks for being one of my loyal readers!


#118 – Leaders Who Like People

Last week I had the pleasure of acknowledging one of the leaders at a client organization for his excellent skills as a supervisor. In reply, he smiled and said, “I like people.” That seemingly simple statement speaks a profound truth about leadership – just genuinely liking people makes a huge difference in our ease and effectiveness as a leader. Why? Because people can be exasperating, foolish, unpleasant, self-centered and so on. And because people can be loyal, hard-working, reliable, trustworthy and more. Great leaders have the capacity to deal appropriately and powerfully with a wide range of human behaviors. They find ways to work that bring out the best in people ~ themselves and others.

Food for Thought ~

Mother Teresa had this to say:
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.”

Question of the day ~

How might you broaden and deepen your capacity for working with people?

New Article now Available ~

Making a mistake is an opportunity to practice working with people under difficult circumstances. My recent column in the North Bay Business Journal is a story about the larger lessons that can be learned from making a mistake. If you haven’t read it yet, please click here.

With appreciation for the great people I work with,