Move the Needle: Unplug to become more plugged in

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By CJ McClanahan

I had an important meeting recently with two entrepreneurs who are highly talented and whose time is extremely valuable.

After less than 60 seconds of pleasantries, we quickly dove into a complex conversation about a new business opportunity.

Moments into the discussion, I noticed something interesting.

One of the participants had a phone sitting next to his coffee – face up. Whenever his device indicated an activity he would glance down, swipe the screen, and read the message.

A few seconds later he would glance back up and rejoin the conversation. This back and forth continued for our entire 45 minute conversation.

The worst part of this story is that this is not considered unusual behavior. We have become so addicted to constant communication that most are conditioned to grab a phone with the introduction of more than a few seconds of solitude.

Do you remember that time you stood in line at Starbucks for two minutes and didn’t check your email or text your friends? Of course you don’t.

We replaced the achievement of important tasks with continuous interaction with technology, convincing ourselves that monitoring the status of our Twitter or Facebook feed is critical to our success.

I have a challenge for all of us – unplug. Leave the phone in the car when you’re having lunch with an associate or friend. Never bring it to meetings and adjust the settings so that you only receive notifications for an actual phone call.

It will be difficult at first. You might even begin to have withdrawal symptoms when your lunch guest excuses themselves to use the restroom and you are forced to sit in silence for 90 seconds.

However, the benefits are huge. You’ll go back to listening and enjoying conversations. You’ll be the person in meetings who participates and adds value.

As with most things in life, the solution is simple. All you need to do is execute.


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