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Daily Leadership Thought #100 – Technology Is Just A Tool

March 3, 2011

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Technology is great but it is just a tool.

I’ve seen great technological advancements in my lifetime that have completely changed the way we work and live.  Life is much different than when I entered college and used a typewriter for school work, did math by using a pencil and basic calculator, spent long periods of time looking for books in the library using the old file system, subscribed to and read only one newspaper, watched only a handful of TV channels, communicated via regular mail (and getting a letter was a big deal), rarely made long distance phone calls because they were too expensive, used a record player to enjoy music, and kept a paper calendar and address book.   The list could go on and on.  There was so much more effort involved in getting things done, staying connected and being plugged into what was going on in the world.  You had to plan your work and activities more sparingly due to the effort and/or coordination involved.

Today it is much easier to stay in touch and get informed, which is a good thing.  However, this has also come at a price.  For example, nobody ever talked about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) when I was a kid.   It has become a common affliction.  I hear from colleagues and acquaintances all the time that they have this issue.  People now seem to have a hard time staying focused and committed to a single task or individual conversation for any extended period.  It’s not because there wasn’t a formal diagnosis of ADD when I was younger, because it’s been around for more than a century.  My contention is that due to technological innovation there just seems to be many more demands on our time.  There are also too many options for stimulation and a prevailing expectation of immediate gratification.

Technology is just a catalytic advantage.  It is not an end in and of itself.   We are connected as people now more than ever before (which is a good thing).  There are certainly times when it is extremely useful and leads to great enjoyment, enhanced intellectual discovery, and wide scale societal change.  However, it can also be all encompassing and a hindering distraction.  If you find yourself easily bored and always on the lookout for something better (or more stimulating), often impatient, having difficulty being present and focusing on the task at hand, jumping to quick but flawed conclusions, getting in over your head on a regular basis, and growing the breadth but not depth of your relationships, then there may be a problem.  I encourage you to take some time to reflect on this topic and how you are using or misusing technology in your life today.  More and faster isn’t always better.