It wasn't but a few weeks ago that around 200,000 people passed through CES, the massive tech trade show and occasion to celebrate humankind's prowess in harnessing technology and its ability to connect us.
That's the optimistic side of the story.
On the flip side, CES could be the next chapter in technological overkill. We now have smartphones that bend, algorithms that speak and robots that sense emotions. And for CES anyway, more than 61,000 execs from 307 companies showed up to drink from what they admit is a firehose. Even the companies exhibiting at CES know that screen and work time are having boundary issues.
Now that 2020 is well underway, it's a good time for executives to consider the role technology plays, with 70% of all executives concerned about their screen time. For any member of modern society, it’s hard to figure out where technology adds and subtracts. You can't do your job without it and sometimes you can't do your job because of it. And it's daunting to strike a balance. However, there are three ways to help:
Engage awareness. Screens have put us in a constant fight, flight, freeze response. When your brain is constantly being routed and re-routed, it heavies up on dopamine and adrenaline. This activates our limbic brain, which benefits when we put our hand on a hot stove or swerve to miss an oncoming car. However, in responding to everyday encounters, this is not ideal. The good news is the body gets you into the fight, flight, freeze response, and it can get you out. It is often as simple as taking a pause, breathing and focusing for a moment on why you opened your screen.
Question the impulse. Before using your phone, take one breath and consider: What is my intention in using this device? Practice taking a conscious pause. How do you step out of reaction, calm down, and choose your response? Awareness of your body is one way to do it. All our emotions manifest as bodily sensations and emotions can help or hurt depending on how we use them. If you approach feeling a physical sensation with curiosity, and an open mind, the meaning of the sensation can lead to new ways of responding. The sequence goes: pay attention, notice what you feel, accept what you experience, think about what you notice with curiosity, choose your response to what you discover
Technology can’t give us what our mind-body awareness has to offer: Emotional fluency. Emotions fuel our actions and having fluency is key to making that action positive and productive.
Align your actions with your values and purpose. Pause, breathe and ask yourself who you choose to be right now. Connect your intention in this moment with your larger sense of purpose. What do you want on your tombstone? Do you want, “I was good at using my phone” or “I was a person of integrity”? When you clarify your intention, you choose who you want to be, and your actions begin to align with your values and purpose.
One of the things that strikes us about technology is that we're so good at sharing how things happen. Look at the world of open-source software. Even Tesla's blueprints are open source. But when it comes to the mysterious human world – where the "why" overrides the "how," we can lose the ability to analyze our actions. But by regaining balance, you can show yourself and your team that awareness is not a new age concept.
Tension is not a problem, but rather an opportunity. Technology is asking people to expand their consciousness. Leaders need to find ways to do just that.