Posts Tagged ‘The Nielsen Company’

The Battle for Personal Development

Wednesday I bumped my appointment for reflection to have an early morning meeting.

Photo by Omer Unlu

Thursday I bumped my appointment for reflection to apply a second coat of stain to a table we’re refinishing. Urgent, you know.

After that 90 minutes of my life (never to be recovered) was spent on e-mail; of course that allowed me to jump from one really important blog to another.  

Not only did I miss-direct the use of my time, I lost that personal growth opportunity that comes from consistent reflection on the story; the journey.

Transformation Takes Time

Today, you and I face forces that oppose the transformation of our lives and 3 words come to mind: pace, distractions, and information overload.  
Of course, there are others.

Pace – a client failed to show up for an appointment last week in large part because she has so much going on.  The pace of life has her running hard…I even text message confirmed the night before!

Distractions – that refinishing project snagged my attention from a daily appointment set aside to support my pursuit of continuous growth. 

Information Overload– e-mail keeps piling up and all those hyperlinks lead me like a bird following a trail of grain until the snare captures my time and some of my life.  Yes, productivity is affected.  Yes, I’m responsible. Yes, there is an appeal to my immediate interest…no, not what is  primary.

Transformation is about experiencing a change in ourselves, usually seen in behavior.  Personal growth and development takes time.  The pace of life, those distractions, and the information overload all seek to hinder the process of growth.

Growth is about becoming more mature.  For this to happen we must create space…time and place to tap into resources that support personal growth.

Creating space allows us to discover the truth found in our story. Truth brings freedom.

Information and Immediate Interest

The current level of information available is off the charts.  What does the access to information using the Internet look like?

In the month of June, according toThe Nielsen Company, the average U.S. Internet use, combined home and work includes:

  • 56 Sessions/Visits per Person, per month
  • 89 Domains Visited per person, per month
  • 2,430 Web Page Views per person, per month
  • 56 Seconds. . .the average time an American spends looking at a Web page

That last statistic is amazing…56 seconds!

How do you think this is impacting you and the ability to process information?  How is the Internet impacting your practice of reflective thinking and writing required to experience transformation?

Division of Attention

What is happening to our ability to focus? To concentrate?  Once again, how are pace, distractions, and information overload affecting your productivity, your creativity, your performance?

“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” – Seneca

My concern: all this information is scanned and skimmed without a depth of reflection.  What happens when you jump from one post to another? Chase one article after another riding the “Hyperlink Xxpress”? 

Have you ever spent 30 minutes speed reading blogs and not have any idea or re-call about what you just read?

Information without processing is like a cloud without rain.

Nicholas Carr is the best-selling author of The Big Switch writes about technology’s effect on the mind in his new book, The Shallows – What the Internet is doing to our Brains.   His recent Saturday Essay, “Does the Internet make you Dumber?” appeared in the Wall Street Journal where he notes:

…a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the Net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is also turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

The picture emerging from the research is deeply troubling, at least to anyone who values the depth, rather than just the velocity, of human thought. People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read traditional linear text. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, alerts and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.

The common thread in these disabilities is the division of attention

What we seem to be sacrificing in all our surfing and searching is our capacity to engage in the quieter, attentive modes of thought that underpin contemplation, reflection and introspection. The Web never encourages us to slow down. It keeps us in a state of perpetual mental locomotion.

It is revealing, and distressing, to compare the cognitive effects of the Internet with those of an earlier information technology, the printed book. Whereas the Internet scatters our attention, the book focuses it. Unlike the screen, the page promotes contemplativeness.

Reading a long sequence of pages helps us develop a rare kind of mental discipline. The innate bias of the human brain, after all, is to be distracted. Our predisposition is to be aware of as much of what’s going on around us as possible. Our fast-paced, reflexive shifts in focus were once crucial to our survival. They reduced the odds that a predator would take us by surprise or that we’d overlook a nearby source of food.

To read a book is to practice an unnatural process of thought. It requires us to place ourselves at what T. S. Eliot, in his poem “Four Quartets,” called “the still point of the turning world.” We have to forge or strengthen the neural links needed to counter our instinctive distractedness, thereby gaining greater control over our attention and our mind.

It is this control, this mental discipline that we are at risk of losing as we spend ever more time scanning and skimming online. If the slow progression of words across printed pages damped our craving to be inundated by mental stimulation, the Internet indulges it. It returns us to our native state of distractedness, while presenting us with far more distractions than our ancestors ever had to contend with.  (Emphasis added)

As an executive coach I am privileged to support my client’s efforts to create space for reflective thinking and writing.  The result?  Transformationchanged behavior, improved performance, increased results. 

What’s that worth?

If you’ve read my stuff before, you know what I say: 

The best predictor of sustainable success is your ability and willingness to learn and change achieved through consistent reflection on truth found in the story

This disciplined approach to life pays big in transformation and improved performance.

What else would hinder transformation of our lives?

Based on the reality of “The Battle for Personal Development” what steps are you taking to create space for reflective thinking?

How are you managing the pace, distraction, and overload potential of our day and technology?

Please comment below; I’d love to hear from you. 

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