Don’t Let Technology Rule

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Time is the only issue we have absolutely no control over, it ticks relentlessly by, second on second, minute on minute. It is precious, so precious we all want more of it and it is the one commodity we cannot buy, the one issue that stops for no one.

The pace of our lives is getting faster and faster. Where once people would talk to a neighbour over the garden fence or invite them into their houses for a cup of tea and a chat, now people are texting the person standing next to them to decide what they will do that weekend and where they will go in the next few minutes. Technology is used to tell someone that you “like” their profile on Facebook, or on LinkedIn etc. Ironic really that we use technology to tell someone we like them on Facebook – the operative word here being “Face” because we do not face them, we hide behind a piece of plastic technology. In fact, more and more people are afraid to face someone to tell them that they want to be friends with them or that they want to break up and go their separate ways.

The world is rushing past us but rarely do we really connect with each other, yet we are told we are more connected than ever before. Everyone complains that there is no time to sit and chat, no time to relax, we are always hurrying from home to work to home again. Today in the news there is an article about a tunnel on the London to Brighton line where back in 2011 passengers had a lucky escape when workers discovered that the roof of a tunnel had partially collapsed. The article goes on to say that the “engineer responsible for 120 tunnels was not suitably qualified or given the correct support”. He had no time to check his work that could have resulted in the loss of many lives!

In the distant past we used to have overseers to ensure that our jobs were carried out properly. We worked a little slower but the job was done well and no one had to go back and correct any mistakes that had been made, wasting valuable time. Today everyone is in a rush to get the job done, get paid and to move on to the next job. There is no time to check our work. When was the last time you read a book only to find that there were punctuation mistakes on many pages. Misunderstandings are happening because people are reading what they think is there rather than what is there. Having written two books myself and then had to check that they were right, I now find it difficult to read a book without noticing the grammatical mistakes in them. Are you proud of the work you do?

We are seeing articles like this on the news and in papers more and more – there is no time to fix things that have gone wrong and no time to train people or support them or oversee their work as used to happen in years gone by. Is it that we do not care? Is it that the pressures that everyone is encountering are that much greater than in years gone by or is it that we are trying so hard to save money and streamline the processes that we are missing the point about getting it right. We are missing the point that to do business with people we have to connect with them – that is, we have to look them in the eye and connect in a more personal way than via a technical gadget.

We are humans, you only have to look at the animal kingdom to see that they move around in groups, they make connections with each other, they “rub” along with each other, they fight, they hunt in groups to catch their prey, they curl up together to go to sleep and they work together to get rid of the enemy. They are not dissimilar to us! That is how we thrive by connecting with other like-minded humans. What reaction do you get from a mobile phone? It does not show you appreciation, anger, hate, love…

Maybe we are scared to make that connection? Are we running so fast to try to keep up with everyone else that we miss what is really important to us? We need to “stop time”, take a step back and maybe take a long walk on our own, pamper ourselves, shut out all the “noise” that goes on around us so that we can really hear our innermost thoughts – that voice inside us who tells us what is really right for us – when we listen we know what we have to do next.

It’s that voice that tells us to take the bold step or, in some cases, take a step back and rethink – we need to hear our true voice, it is the voice that will ensure we go down the right road and that we achieve our goals. Equipment has no thoughts or feelings – but it appears we are becoming slaves to these machines. What if you turned off your mobile phone? How about turning off your computer or the television and having a conversation with your spouse, your family, your children?
Do you really know what they are feeling and thinking? We can become very isolated and we blame it on our work, but aren’t we in control of our destiny? My daughter-in-law is an artist and often seems to have her computer to hand – however, when I emailed her earlier this year I got an “out of office response” confirming that she had turned off her computer for two weeks. She needed to get back in touch with her real self. A friend of mine’s husband goes away on holiday and on his return he deletes all the emails that have arrived since he was away. He says “if it is important they will contact me again”.

Most of the emails we receive are not important and we certainly do not need to have our mobile phone on all of the time. Whilst I write this article the sun is shining and I can hear people laughing and chatting as they walk along the towpath. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could turn off your mobile phone and walk through a local park or, if you are lucky enough to have one near you, a forest or over hills – just you and someone you care about drinking in all that fresh air, the beautiful views across rolling hills, seeing the patterns the sun makes as it comes through the leaves of the trees. It is an opportunity for you to gather your thoughts and to think about your goals, your desires, what you really want.

Whilst we battled our way across the Southern Ocean with the enormous waves crashing over our yacht, with commands being shouted at us as the yacht rolled from side to side sometimes nearly out of control, a fellow crew member slipped off the yacht despite being clipped on by her safety line – she was too far away from me to be able to help her. I had to play my part in saving the yacht and the lives of the 17 other crew members but I kept my eye on her as she struggled to pull herself up on deck only to be washed off it again before she could get a hand-hold on something fixed. She kept her eye on me as her target to get back on board. She survived, as did we all, but it made me realise that whilst work is important and climbing the ladder is imperative for some but not all, everyone needs to connect to other human beings – it’s what keeps us human.

It’s important to totally relax, to take time out to allow our minds free rein to dream what to some may be an impossible dream but to us is our goal and it can be anything that we want it to be. Let your mind help you work out what you really want to achieve and how you will do it. So you can look someone in the eye and say “I did it!”

While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior. Henry C Link

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About Author

Rona Cant

Rona Cant is an explorer, international speaker and author. Once an unexceptional, middle-aged single parent she became a round-the-world yachtswoman by competing in the BT Global Challenge Round the World Yacht Race (the toughest yacht race in the world). For the last 10 years she has been putting together programmes on leadership and teamwork, and motivating businesses and individuals to get out of their comfort zone and reach their potential based on the lessons learnt on her expeditions. Her second book, Snow, Sleds & Silence – the Story of the Nordkapp Expedition describes the ups and downs of her epic adventure on this trail, which lead her to establish Arctic Leadership Challenges which offers experiential training inside the Arctic Circle for individuals and teams.

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