On returning from the summer holidays, iPhone Screen Time showed that I had used my phone for over 4 hours a day.
I hated this idea. That 4 full hours each day in some way were glued to a small screen. There is plenty of facetime calls and zoom calls… but a large portion has become the mindless scrolling down through instagram in particular.
I immediately deleted instagram, facebook and twitter from my phone. I left some of the other apps that were getting a lot of use: WhatsApp, Chrome, Linkedin, Chess.com, YouTube.
It has been a week without Instagram, facebook and twitter. I have not noticed missing anything. I got a couple of emails from instagram saying “you have 3 new messages” – but I can still see instagram when I am at my laptop so it is not that I have left completely.
Screen time this week is down 27% from last week (and down over 45% from my peak distraction week!)
It is still pretty high.
…and it is such a powerful distraction.
I pick up my phone to do 1 thing – make a call, send a message… and then spend 10-20 minutes doing a cycle through a couple of apps… I am addicted to deliberate distraction.
I tell myself that I have discipline. I have spent a lot of the last decade working on using time intentionally and effectively… and I am not able to cope with an iphone.
I worry for humanity.
If this distraction were making us kinder, better, more informed, more worldly-wise then this would be a gift. These distractions are not making me kinder… if anything more impatient and rude to those around me.
I have decided that I have a problem. I am addicted. I do not have intentional control over my usage of this device.
It has so many useful features that make my life better – the camera and video in my pocket, google maps is brilliant, facetime with family has been wonderful during Covid times, whatsapp allows coordination of groups and meetings… I will not be getting rid of the iphone.
I will be honest with myself and say that I am not in conscious control of my usage and I need to set limits for myself.
I don’t like admitting it, but I guess this is an addiction.
I don’t like the idea of being controlled by a little device.
I recently heard Sadhguru share 3 ways that people approach life and work:
Idiot – these people don’t enjoy what they do each day
Smart – these people have created a life where they do enjoy the activity and the people that they spend time with each day
Genius – these people have learnt to love what they have to do. They know how to connect all important activity to their personal purpose and make it feel meaningful.
A couple of comments on youtube suggested that this was an “arrogant statement” and that not everybody has had access to education and opportunities. I don’t believe any of these 3 approaches are necessarily only accessed through formal education… in fact I see many well educated people from wealthy backgrounds who really struggle to get out of the “idiot” category.
Another comment on youtube suggested that we each operate at these 3 levels in different areas of our lives… it may be that you are a genius in health and exercise, but an idiot when it comes to personal finances… or a genius in your professional career and an idiot as a family member.
The route to genius involves having clarity on your purpose and a set of practices or rituals to connect necessary action to that sense of meaningful purpose.
What do you think? Where do you operate most of the time?
Whats the most important human capability for the next thirty years?
The Ability to Pay Attention
To hold your attention on what you decide is important. to stay focused as it becomes boring… and to stick with something through boredom to the insights that only emerge on the other side of boredom.
Today I am waiting to receive my first dose of the Covid vaccine. The Barcelona conference center has been turned into an industrial scale vaccine delivery system. It’s well organized and I am impressed.
Line for vaccines. A thousand people. Nine hundred face down to their screens. Fifty reading a book. Fifty looking around and seeing where they are, what’s happening and who else is here.
50 years ago information was scarce. That made it give power to those that had access.
Today information is so abundant that it gives little power. It is so abundant that it has created another scarcity: The scarcity of attention.
What is the true cost of an hour scrolling on Instagram or Facebook? The life I could have lived, the deep conversation I could have had, the goals you didn’t pursue, all the actions you didn’t take… all the possible yous you could have been… had you attended to those things.
“Attention is paid in possible futures forgone” James Williams.
I first met Dandapani at an Entrepreneurs Organisation event in Istanbul in 2012, I have since met him in Boston and then helped bring him to Barcelona to spend a day with our Entrepreneurs’ Organisation chapter.
Dandapani teaches some simple but highly important lessons about awareness and our mind, and how to be intentional about your life… and in particular your energy.
Winning and social approval is not the motivation of the gold medal athlete. They do it to learn more about themselves. Winning or losing is not so important, it is about knowing who you are. Failure is like an enhanced moment to learn who you truly are.
Your life now is a manifestation of where you direct your energy or a sum total of where you have been investing your energy.
There’s people in your life that boost your energy. There are those who are energy neutral. Be kind and detached from your energy vampires. Give the work back to them.
How to Improve your Concentration
Dandapani tells us that there are 3 steps to practice that improve our concentration:
Finish that which you begin
Finish it well, beyond your expectations
Do a little more than you think that you are able to do
Use these 3 steps in every area of your life: from making the bed in the morning, to tidying the kitchen, to reading to your child, to writing emails, to writing blog posts…
Further Resources on Dandapani’s lessons
Check out my previous videos and blog posts that were inspired by Dandapani:
In the most recent edition of James Clear’s weekly newsletter, he shared this gem on improving your quality of life.
Be “Selectively Ignorant”
Ignore topics that drain your attention.
Unfollow people that drain your energy.
Abandon projects that drain your time.
Do not keep up with it all. The more selectively ignorant you become, the more broadly knowledgable you can be.
What or who do you need to start ignoring?
We cannot control how the news will make us feel, but we can decide whether to watch it or not. We cannot control how someones words will make us feel, but we can decide to spend time with people who want the best for us. Choose who and what you let into your mind.
“You can’t free anybody else and you can’t serve anybody else unless you free yourself”
You are not an accident. You are a singular piece in the giant jigsaw puzzle that is this world. This jigsaw puzzle is not a 50 piece puzzle, nor a 250 piece puzzle… it is a 7 billion piece puzzle. I find it frustrating when my daughter and I put together a 50 piece puzzle and find that there are only 49 pieces. We can’t finish the game. The great puzzle needs your piece. Whatever you are given, you need to pass it on with integrity, humility and generosity.
The greatest anger is the anger at ourselves for not living up to what we know we are capable of. Hell is not after death, hell is the moment before death when a human being looks back on all the wasted potential.
“What you can be, you must be” Abraham Maslow.
Honestly expressing yourself.
The greatest gift you can give to those around you is your own shining self belief and glorious sense of meaning in what you do. If you don’t have it, only you can do the work to get it. If you have it, only you can keep doing what it takes to keep it.
The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. Love is not easy. Love is hard. Doing the work that needs to get done, overcoming the devil in me that avoids the work is the course of love. Allowing the resistance, the procrastination to win is the course of apathy. Apathy leads to self-hate, which builds to resentment and then is shared with others in bitterness and cruelty.
Stephen Pressfield speaks powerfully about the Resistance. It is a force within each of us that stops us from doing the work that really matters.
The 3 big voices of my personal resistance are:
The Last 5% is the Hard Part
Starting is easy. There are no prizes for starting the marathon. You get the medal for finishing. Most people I know are good at starting. Few people I know are good at finishing.
The closer you get to the end, the stronger the Resistance grows.
“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”
Here are a few of many ways I bring these voices into my life to procrastinate and avoid finishing important work.
They won’t let me
I am too young
I am too old
I am only one person
I don’t know enough
I am not a guru
This could be embarrassing
This will be embarrassing
This is too touchy-feely
I won’t get paid for this
This isn’t business stuff
I have to finish the things I have already started
Seth Godin has already said it better than I can
I’ll do it tomorrow/later/after this coffee
Who am I to think I know something special about this?
I was in Boston to teach on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program) this week. MIT Endicott House is one of the most beautiful locations for leadership retreats and programs. I brought my drone to capture the scenery around the main buildings. You’ll see the drone shots right at the beginning of the video below.
Why Do We Need to Clarify our Purpose?
Dandapani was one of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Masters Program event this week at MIT Endicott House, outside of Boston. Dandapani spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, meditating with his guru on the purpose of his life.
Dandapani spoke about the importance of consciously deciding what is important and what is not important in your life. Why?
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