Posts Tagged ‘Disengagement’

Why Can’t You Hide It?

2007 Day 337 by s3aphotography via flickr

 

Heather is a valuable employee of an international beauty products company. We met for coffee to discuss a challenge she was having with work. Despite her company’s overall mission to promote harmony between people by enhancing the way we live and interact with each other, Heather wasn’t feeling the harmony in her experience with her manager.

Over the past six years, Heather had developed herself from an entry-level employee to an outstanding contributor with a strong work ethic. Perhaps that explained one of the reasons she was promoted.

As our java chat (coaching over coffee) continued, she began to confide in me, so I asked, “What is your challenge today?” The bottom line answer: a growing disengagement at work.

In addition to Heather’s positive career path with the company, she consistently hit performance goals. She was also identified as an emerging leader by the company’s regional corporate leaders — an awesome achievement, indeed. So why then were we having this java chat?

Why was she thinking about leaving?

Did she enjoy her work?  Yes.

Was she a “A-Player” making a difference; did she have highly valued character qualities and work ethic?  Yes.

Had her employer invested time and money in her personal growth and professional development?  Yes.

Was she growing as a person, an assistant manager, a leader?  Yes.

Did her company see an enlarged role in her future?  Yes.

Then, why was she considering an exit strategy?

Digging deeper

If you ask, “How much of a raise did she want?” you asked the wrong question.

A people-focused leader would probe for answers:

  • What can we do to hold on to this valuable person?
  • How will we protect our investment in her training, experience, product knowledge, the personal development of this person, and all her customer relationships?
  • What will it take to avoid the high cost of turnover? (Most sources agree it is 3 to 5 times an employee’s salary?)

(Note: neither salary or substantial work schedule demands were mentioned.)

As my frozen mocha coffee was all but gone she had answered my questions. The solution for keeping this emerging leader became quite clear: appreciation. Her manager was missing an important skill — the ability to communicate basic appreciation.

One simple behavior change — her manager showing appreciation for a job well done, for going the extra mile, for making their store a top performer in the company — and Heather would still be highly engaged. She would feel valued and give her best.

Now, how do you suppose her manager would respond if I were to ask, “Do you appreciate Heather?” Correct. She would probably say something along the lines of “We love Heather, she’s great.”

Here’s the bottom line: appreciation only exists when it is expressed. Appreciation is admiration, approval, or gratitude expressed.

Why do they leave?

Recent U.S. Department of Labor data shows that the number one reason people leave their job is that they do not feel appreciated. (And by the way, customer loyalty is based upon feeling appreciated, too.)

Unfortunately, the reality is that admiration, approval, and gratitude are left unexpressed far too often; that’s insane. The return on the investment in relationship building and performance is amazing.

What didn’t you say?

What is the message when admiration, approval, or gratitude is not communicated? Have you noticed how most people, if left on their own, imagine the worst-case scenario? That means most employees assume lack of appreciation if you don’t speak up.

Let’s keep it simple: appreciation must be shown to have an impact. That means you must let those around you know how you feel about them and their contribution.

What if it isn’t your style?

There are several ways to express appreciation. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. In fact, expressing appreciation can be quite easy. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be intentional; notice others and their contributions.
  • Seize the moment; when you notice say something right then.
  • Know your people; know what matters to them (public vs. private praise, etc.).
  • Leverage existing opportunities; take time for a birthday lunch or coffee, celebrate their date of hire, etc.
  • Brag on them to someone special; send a note, an email, or make a brief phone call.

 

What will it cost the company if Heather leaves? At minimum, the hidden costs associated with turnover. And what would it cost for her manager to be appreciative?

When you show appreciation for a person and their contribution, they’ll be more likely to remain engaged (like they were when you hired them) and perform at a higher level.

Create Space for Reflection

  • How well are you showing appreciation of others around you?
  • Who needs to know you appreciate them? How will you show it?
  • What’s your plan for boosting the performance of your team?

 

Here’s to your Adventure,

Steve

 

Note: this blog is an edited version of  “The Beauty of Appreciation” published in The People Project: Your Guide to Changing Behavior and Growing Your Influence as a Leader.

Photo credit: s3aphotography via flickr

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Do You Know My Name?

Communication Jonathan Velasquez Upsplash

“You know my name!”

That was the response Jennifer, in accounting, received from a frontline employee. What did she do? All she did was respond to his request with the words, “Your name is Mark, right?”

Why did Mark give such an emotional response?

“You know my name!” reveals a lot to the discerning leader of people. What do you see or hear in his words?

Here are a few key words around engagement; not exhaustive, just a few simple thoughts about Connecting, Respect, Value, and Giving Voice.

Connecting

When it comes to employee engagement, we know it is not about the exchange of time for money. It is about connecting. Just as a connecting flight allows you to arrive at your destination, so does a good connection with the people in your organization.

Nature makes the performance value of connecting easy to understand. Consider the tomato plant and notice all the connections that allow it to create my favorite fruits.

In general, the plant uses its roots to extract water from the soil; its leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air and energy from the sun. The stem transports the water and nutrients, producing both oxygen AND the delicious tomato.

Remove any one of those connections and we can forget the desired and delicious outcome.

The ability to connect or join people together in a common cause—too often called a “soft” skill—is actually a core leadership skill. Your capacity to get along with people and connect them to one another as a “team” is more important than ever.

Respect

Beyond connecting, support of employee engagement can occur as we meet the human need for respect. In simplest terms, respect is showing consideration and thoughtfulness to another person.

A deep appreciation associated with admiration and deference toward someone is required for collaboration. To free an employee to give their best while withholding respect is unproductive. When a leader fails to earn the respect of others, loyalty and commitment will be missing.

This basic respect goes a long way in human relationships and allows us to get things done. When we redirect our focus from self to others and care about them, the performance will come.

Value

A rigid, bottom-line focus makes it is easy to lose sight of the person. Once a person begins to feel viewed like an object, disengagement is sure to follow. We value a person when we care enough to acknowledge their worth and importance as a human person more than their usefulness as a human being.

Quite often, part of my service to leaders is that of reminding. Jennifer’s story prompts this friendly reminder, which comes from

Gallup’s research, originally released in First, Break All the Rules and then, 12: The Elements of Great Managing. You may know about the concepts. It comes in the form of a question, which made the top 5 out of the list of 12 great managing elements:

“Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?”

Yes, the intent of Question 5 goes beyond just knowing an employees’ name. People want to know: Do you care about me…are you interested in my story…do you have concern beyond the job I do…do you care about my working conditions?

Whether the new reality show Undercover Boss is all that it appears to be or not, I see one consistent message: these CEOs are relearning the value of their frontline people and the work they do.

Giving Voice

Our leadership influence is limited if our ability to connect, respect, and value others doesn’t include giving voice to others. To evaluate how well you give voice to others consider how often you:

  • Remain open to the ideas and opinions of others
  • Finish other people’s sentences
  • Take credit for work others accomplished
  • “Tell” others how to complete an assignment upon delegating it to them, beyond stating the desired outcome
  • Listen to others

In answer to the question “How can we help someone find his or her voice?”, Stephen Covey responds: “I think if you care about people genuinely, you listen to them and observe them; because this is more than just hearing them speak, it is observing them – observing where their excitement is, where their enthusiasm is; observing where you sense they have potential.

Sometimes it is very powerful just to say to them in sincerity, “I believe you have great potential in this area. I see real strengths in you that you may not see in yourself, and I would like to create an opportunity for you to use those strengths and to develop this potential. Would you be interested in that?””

These core concepts are really about how you, as a leader, engage your people

What is the biggest problem managers face today?

During a Gallup Management Journal interview, Rodd Wagner, a principal at Gallup, and James K. Harter, Ph.D., chief scientist for Gallup’s international workplace management practice, were asked, “What is the biggest problem manager’s face today?” Here’s what they had to say:

There are actually two primary problems facing managers.

First is the idea that almost anyone can be a manager, when in fact, it requires certain talents and really ought to be viewed as a specialty. This view often puts the wrong people in management jobs and creates too little focus on improving the quality of managing.

Second is the contempt for what are sometimes dismissively called the “soft skills” of working with people compared with the “hard skills” of understanding numbers and processes. Great managers are incredibly perceptive about human nature. It’s a rare and typically undervalued ability.

There is more to employee engagement than these four core people skills—connecting, respect, value, and giving voice. However, using these core skills to build relationships encourages high-performing teams.

Create Space for Reflection

  • How well do you engage your people?
  • How well do you connect, respect, value, and give voice to your employees? How effectively do your leaders engage employees at all levels?
  • What core people skill have you identified as one to give attention to? How will you sharpen this skill?

*Previously published as “You Know My Name” in THE PEOPLE PROJECT: Your Guide to Changing Behavior and Growing Your Influence as a Leader.

Image by Jonathan Velasquez via Upsplash

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Do you have the NEW work-life balance?

La Fanfare d'Occasion à Blandy-les-Tours

JobPro’s management team slunk into the room for Thursday’s meeting. Two weeks of 60+ hour work weeks had stolen their engagement.  Most crash-landed in their chairs, some with a sigh. Dave just stood, staring across the room, instead of starting the meeting.  No wonder productivity had dipped.

“You gonna start this so we can get out of here or what?” Marlene snarled

“I’m gettin’ there.  Needed a bit to collect my thoughts,” Dave replied.

“Looked more like staring into space,” Marlene replied.

“Give him a break.  It’s not like anyone’s thinking clearly with all the overtime and staff cuts,” defended Phyllis.

“Yeah, and why’d they have to get rid of Jackie?” Barry chimed in.

All their conflict washed over Dave.  He felt stress clawing at his insides. His frustration blended with theirs.  Everyone had been picking up the slack of his or her lost teammates.  What could he say?  Their life outside of work was gone.  His own work-home boundary lines had been blurred.  Venting his frustration would only add to the rising tide of disunity…

“Life Harmony” a new paradigm

The longing for life harmony makes dissonance increasingly unpleasant. Dissonance brought on by inconsistency between what you believe and how you behave sometimes.

Harmony, on the other hand, is a pleasing arrangement of parts. In your story, harmony is the interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative. Life harmony represents the new work-life balance.

First, there is the harmony of being human – the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual “parts” which create your story.  Physical chaos occurs when the need for rest, nutrition, and activity are ignored. Mental chaos can be brought on by what Douglas Rushkoff calls, digiphrenia“a digitally disordered condition of mental activity.” Distracted by the constant connection of technology, mindless entertainment, advertising, and social media adding to the turmoil.  Emotional chaos happens when fears are unaddressed, gratitude is unexpressed, and forgiveness is withheld. Spiritual chaos comes if we choose a worldview of self-sovereignty and providence.

Life harmony is the new work-life balance. The image supports giving voice to all your roles in life as a man or woman, a son or daughter, a sibling, perhaps a spouse or parent, an employee or employer and so forth.

Life harmony is less about share of voice and more about voice recognition. Imagine a vocal ensemble with beautiful harmony.

Harmony is achieved when each voice sings its part.

Said another way, life harmony blends the role of individual, family, community, and work into a single narrative. Think about it. Your Story began when you showed up as a person, the newest member of a family; you found your place in a community where you learned how to make your contribution through meaningful work.

Everyday is an opportunity to cultivate life harmony. Today, you will add to your story. Are you writing the story you will want to tell?

Control the pace to create space

The pace of life provides little margin. What happens when the pace of life out of control? It becomes easy to live “out of control.” To create life harmony in the midst of chaos demands discipline.

Creating space is the disciplined use of time, place and resources to reflect on what’s really going on. Chaos happens; harmony is intentional. When your actions are aligned with your beliefs and values the new work-life balance is near.

Dave took a deep breath. “Grab a piece of paper and finish this sentence: I’m grateful for…. List your top five or so. Got it?

Surprisingly, Barry was first to start writing. Marlene just stared at the blank page before starting.

“What was that like for you?” Dave asked.

“I feel more positive … more grateful,” Phyllis said.

“Yeah, it helped me to realize how much I’ve got to be thankful for,” Barry chimed in.

Dave took another deep breath and pressed ahead, “Now, you won’t be asked to share this, but who is the team member you have the most conflict with?”

He waited and watched the look on their faces. “Okay, finish this sentence: One of the things I appreciate about (person’s name) is….”

As they looked up from writing, Dave asked, “What do you notice about yourself, what changed?”

“I started to see them as a person,” Marlene confessed.

“It caused me to look for the positive instead of the negative,” Barry said.

“Sometimes, we get so caught up in our work, our agenda, and the pace around here that all we do is deal with problems. Then, we allow the “problem” to build a wall between us and we lose sight of the people.” Dave continued, “Gratitude and appreciation grease our relationship gears, helping to reduce the friction and reduce the unnecessary stress.”

The energy of JobPro’s management meeting changed. It became a time and place for the team to step out of the chaos and re-connect as people. With time set aside to think, new ideas were discussed and the energy of the team increased. It wasn’t a quick fix, but a beginning.

So, with pen and paper in hand, what are you grateful for?

Who are you in conflict with? Now, what do you appreciate about him or her?

What do you think about the NEW work-life balance idea of “life harmony?”  When do you create space to think and listen to your Story?

Here’s to your freedom,

Steve

PS: If you want to be a self-managed leader or want to develop your team, Next Generation Leaders coaching is available for individuals or business teams. Get more details at the team-based coaching page.

Want to listen to a great example of harmony? Watch this 2-minute video of the vocal group Committed.

 

Photo credit: Matthieu Luna via Compfight

Why just show up?

The kindness of strangers

Going the extra mile counts.

What happens when someone gives more effort than is expected? And when your waiter does more than required?

People who go the extra mile are in the minority in today’s workplace. Gallup’s recent worldwide survey reports that only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs.

Where are you?

Here are Gallup’s definitions. What do you see?

  1. Engaged. You work with passion and feel a profound connection to your company. You push innovation and move your organization forward.
  2. Not Engaged. You’re checked out – sleepwalking through your workday – putting your time in but not energy or passion.
  3. Actively Disengaged. You aren’t just unhappy at work you are busy acting out your unhappiness. You undermine what others are accomplishing.

Harvard Business Review reports engagement levels for the United States. Only 30% are Engaged or “emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations every day.” Those Not Engaged account for 52% of the workforce and 14% are Actively Disengaged. Where are you?

Why does your engagement matter?

Yes, employee engagement leads to business growth and higher profits. But what if you don’t own the business? Why does it matter?

Who do you want to work with? Engaged employees collaborate and contribute to the good things happening at the office. They are involved, enthusiastic, and committed, accountable and responsible. They not only understand their assignment but also look for new and better ways to achieve outcomes. Productivity is high.

Gallup’s study also reports characteristics associated with engaged employees:

  1. They are more optimistic about the economy.
  2. They describe their life as thriving.
  3. They have more positive daily interaction.

Sound good?

The path to engagement

Here are four mile markers adapted from Gallup’s research. Where are you on the journey?

  1. Just Starting: So, what’s in it for me? Feeling secure.
  2. Moving Forward: How do I make my contribution? Feeling valued.
  3. Gaining Speed: How am I connected, is it a good fit? Feeling accepted.
  4. Got Momentum: Where is the opportunity for my development? Are my ideas being considered? Feeling confident.

Going the extra mile is a good thing. Life is better for everyone when you do more than just show up.

Here’s to your Next Level,

Steve

Improve engagement, performance, and productivity by developing self-managed teams and leaders. Check out the support offered with Next Generation Leaders team-based coaching.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons LicenseEd Yourdon via Compfight

Why employees plan to leave

he loves her!

 

How many high performers intend to stay with your company? Where will they be one year from now?

The collision between “the need to reinvest in development and a disgruntled workforce ready to jump ship,” is pending according to Chief Learning Officer.

Employee engagement can be obstructed by the expectation to do more with less, down sizing and reorganization challenges, benefit cutbacks and a general uncertainty. The CLO survey reports that engagement of “the highest-potential employees dropped by 18%” and 1 in 4 indicated “turnover intention.”

Beyond the basics of retention

Most companies understand that to merely keep employees they must provide 1) a fair pay structure and competitive benefit package, 2) tools and resources, and 3) work that provides variety, challenge, and autonomy. But there is more.

A recent Corporate Executive Board survey reports that whether a high potential employee stays or not is “heavily dependent on whether employees feel valued and believe that there is a long-term commitment to their development.”

In fact, 26% of employees plan to leave due to the lack of career development opportunity. (Workplace Insights Survey) Offering development, learning, and advancement opportunities must be a basic strategy for engaging and retaining top performers.

Someone cares, right?

Winning the loyalty of the best requires one more thing: a good boss. Effective leaders — at all levels — are vital. The Center for Creative Leadership, World Leadership Survey notes:

We are not just talking about the strategic visioning done at the top level of an organization—we are talking about how good leaders are at all levels. We all know from personal experience how critical a good boss is, and plenty of evidence shows that people leave jobs because of their bosses more than because of the organization itself.

A manager’s technical savvy does not win the hearts of top talent. High performers want leadership. Having a boss with people skills is a big deal. Today’s manager must have core skills like the ability to build trust, to connect and communicate, to set expectations and delegate.

Employees who believe their manager cares about them are more likely to be around in a year (94% strongly agree). Of those who strongly disagreed that their manager cares, only 43% intended to stay. The business of business is people.

How do you rate yourself and/or your company on these retention strategies?

  1. My direct reports feel valued.
  2. Our employees believe we are committed to their development.
  3. My direct reports know I care about them.

Who do you want to keep on your team?

Now, what’s your plan?

Here’s to your Next Level,

Steve

PS: You can lower turnover and improve engagement, performance, and productivity… by developing self-managed teams and leaders. If your business or job is near Tulsa, check out the menu of Next Generation Leaders team-based coaching. Cook up some career development with 4-5 other professionals in a 4-week leadership transformation. Who could you send from your company?

Image credit: Wes Browning via Compfight

What’s the Business of Business?

Photo by Arenamontanus

This executive coaching client is a rising star in his company. 

Working in a Fortune 100 company with 300,000 employees, Jonathan (not his real name) has consistently received high performance marks and has for 12 years.  He is acknowledged for adding value to the company and consistently promoted from entry level to a senior manager role. 

With each promotion he received the standard 5% pay increase.

Recently, his boss was hired away.  Jonathan is on the short list for another promotion. Let’s celebrate, right? 

Not so quick, sorry.

Jonathan has been a loyal, contributor for 12 years and received six, 5% promotion-based pay increases.  He recently learned his boss who left for another operation had been recruited at same pay grade but with a $40,000 per year salary difference.  How would that impact your employee loyalty and engagement?

Based on his 12 year story and factual data points, he made a compelling appeal to his boss; she totally agreed with his assessment.  He is not  appropriately compensated.  

“Unfortunately,” she said, “you were hired in at entry level and have worked your way up through the company.  (Just like we set it up…) Now, for you to be paid fair market value for your position you will most likely need to look outside the company.”

Can you imagine?

For 12 years you gave of your heart and soul to “the company”…sacrificing to meet expectations…developing yourself professionally…recognized as a high performer…fast track promotions…and now, you discovern your comp plan places you in the bottom of the market?

Now, only Jonathan’s character keeps him contributing.  Now, as reality sets in he starts searching for appreciation and respect. 

What will this decision cost the company?

A mere $250,000 to $300,000 in “hidden” turnover expense!

How can this happen?

Business eats people.

By business I mean a company or organization that buys and sells goods, make products, or provides services; “business eats people” to accomplish this activity whether for profit or not-for-profit.  This is not about it being “right or wrong”. It just is. Business consumes taking the time and energy, creativity and ideas, talent and skills, relationship connections to create.

Labor Day, Let’s All Celebrate!

Here in the USA we just “celebrated” Labor Day.  Other than marking the end of summer, what do you know about this Federal holiday?  Yes, we all know it is observed on the first Monday every September, but what about the origin?  According to the U. S. Department of Labor

Labor Day…is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. (Emphasis added)

Note that this is NOT a politically-oriented post, it is people-oriented. We continue with Wikipedia adding to the story

The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. Military and U. S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families.

This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday proceeding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement. (Emphasis added)

The original focus of the “labor movement” was about the peoplethe story continues:

The term labor movement is a broad term for the development of a collective organization of working people, to campaign in their own interest for better treatment from their employers and governments, in particular through the implementation of specific laws governing labor relations.

Although the birth of Labor Day has an unfortunate history, this Nationwide Holiday is designed to celebrate the American Worker. Consider the intended focus…

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.  

That “the nation pays tribute to The Creator of so much opportunity, freedom and leadership” is reserved for another National Holiday: Thanksgiving Day.  

But you ask, what about  this “Business Eats People”?    

There is some good news here. 

Hope comes in a couple of ways to my way of thinking as I look at this story:

  1. People: The business of business is people.  More than a slogan, without you, the “American worker”…without Jonathan a great customer experience is not possible. Nothing ships. Nothing is invented. The level of performance for any business or organization misses the mark of full potential without people who make want to make a difference in the world. 
  2. Leadership: The role of a leader is to influence how business is done while in pursuit of profit.  Please notice “profit” it is not a four-letter word; without earnings there is no expansion or growth.  In a competitive and ever changing environment no growth leads to death; right?
  3. Responsibility: Your role is to pay attention living around the “beast”. No responsible parent will knowingly place their child in danger? Considering a fun trip to the zoo?  Signs are posted, glass walls, fences, and ravines are present to keep everyone safe.   

Here are a few thoughts and questions to start help you reflect on your work-life balance and personal responsibility in your relationship with business and organizations?  Notice the sign at the front door…

Warning: This Business eats People, you are Responsible to:

  • Clarify Values: what matters to you?  What do you value? How well are your daily decisions guided by your values? Where do you have conflict between your values?
  • Establish Priorities: what is really important? 
  • Set Boundaries: do you know your limits? There comes a point when something crosses a line and becomes something else; when being “available” becomes (fill in the blank…) “being driven…a control freak…a perfectionist.”

What else would you include on the sign?

Based on this reality that “Business Eats People” what additional responsibilities do you think of?

How are you managing the demands of business (work) on your life?

Please comment below; I’d love to hear from you.  Who might you share today’s post with?

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Pace – The Accelerator of Success

Photo by Xlibber

What is the pace of your life these days?  

That is the question I posed last week during a group coaching session. We were about to discuss “The Path to Future Success” — what is the pace of your life? 

Here are the some of the responses those leaders gave:

  • Speed of light
  • Rough
  • Busy
  • Laid back due to uncertainty/change
  • Adapting to circumstances
  • Crazy
  • Extremely fast, no down time
  • Comfortable
  • Usually fast, slowing it forcibly
  • Fast and Furious

Where do you identify?

What happens when you are overly occupied with activity? What’s the impact of being so committed to something that you are unable to undertake another activity of a greater value?

When does your schedule seem ridiculous…to the point that it’s not practical or showing good sense, “it’s crazy”?  What is that costing you?

What is the affect when you are doing nearly everything in “fast” mode?

What’s your world like?

Did you see the Peter Bregman’s recent Harvard Business Review blog, “Why I Returned My iPad”?  I appreciate his candor; what do you think?

A little more than a week after buying the iPad, I returned it to Apple. The problem wasn’t the iPad exactly, though it has some flaws. The problem was me.

I like technology, but I’m not an early adopter. I waited for the second-generation iPod, the second-generation iPhone, and the second-generation MacBook Air.

But the iPad was different. So sleek. So cool. So transformational. And, I figured, since it’s so similar to the iPhone, most of the kinks would already be worked out.

So at 4 PM on the day the 3G iPad was released, for the first time in my life, I waited in line for two hours to make a purchase.

I set up my iPad in the store because I wanted to make sure I could start using it the very moment I bought it. And use it I did. I carried it with me everywhere; it’s so small and thin and light, why not bring it along?

I did my email on it, of course. But I also wrote articles using Pages. I watched episodes of Weeds on Netflix. I checked the news, the weather, and the traffic. And, of course, I proudly showed it to, well, anyone who indicated the least bit of interest.

It didn’t take long for me to encounter the dark side of this revolutionary device: it’s too good.

It’s too easy. Too accessible. Both too fast and too long-lasting. Certainly there are some kinks, but nothing monumental. For the most part, it does everything I could want. Which, as it turns out, is a problem.

Sure I might want to watch an episode of Weeds before going to sleep. But should I? It really is hard to stop after just one episode. And two hours later, I’m entertained and tired, but am I really better off? Or would it have been better to get seven hours of sleep instead of five?

The brilliance of the iPad is that it’s the anytime-anywhere computer. On the subway. In the hall, waiting for the elevator. In a car on the way to the airport. Any free moment becomes a potential iPad moment.  (emphasis added)

The iPhone can do roughly the same thing, but not exactly. Who wants to watch a movie in bed on an iPhone?

So why is this a problem? It sounds like I was super-productive. Every extra minute, I was either producing or consuming.

Every extra minute, I was either producing or consuming. Sound familiar?

How is this pace affecting your life?

That’s the question I ask my coaching group next; here are their responses?

  • Impacts my outlook on life
  • My health
  • Lacking a sense of direction
  • Miss-focused, not concentrating on what is important
  • Feeling short-changed
  • Feeling out of control
  • Exhausted
  • Questioning: Where am I?  Who am I?
  • Loss of contentment
  • Drinking more Red Bull
  • Loss of quality
  • Out of balance
  • Hurting my performance
  • Impacting my life
  • Hard on relationships

Now, how is the pace of life impacting you?

Life is accelerated, everything seems to happen faster, develop faster, change faster.

The point of the coaching session was to establish how to accelerate personal growth.

Here’s the principle to consider…

The way to accelerate personal growth is to slow life down.

How will you slow down your life today? 

What’s one thing that is so doable it’s laughable? What can you do that will help slow life down?

Tell us what you think.

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