Renently a friend shared an article on twitter from Fast Company that caught my attention. It covered Atari’s Founder Nolan Bushnell’s talk at Mindshare this past week. His main point was that we need to do analog things to keep our innovation alive. I have started to notice a pattern in my life in regards to my ability to be impactful as a connector, innovator and change agent. When I am drained I start to hide. By hide I mean connect less, innovate less and lose hope for a changed world. I lose my enjoyment in spending time with others. Life loses beauty and movement. It is a condition of our digital age. We are inundated with demands and opportunities but have lost what is needed to sustain.
Call it overreacting to the lizard brain, a factor of our economy, striving or digital addiction. Whatever you call it, the result is less of anything good and a lot of loss.
Below are a few ways that have helped me stay away from that list. These are ones that are working well for me and I would love to hear how you are keeping it at bay.
I started taking what I call digital shabbats after getting to know Tiffany Shlain. She explains so well in her documentary Connected how our brains are becoming rewired due to constant digital use. In her own life she noticed she was less connected to the people she cared about the most. Taking one day a week to completely unplug changed it all for her. I have found the same result after making it a weekly habit. Judith Shulevitz has explored what the sabbath does extensively in her book The Sabbath World. You can see her here talking about what the sabbath has meant for her.
At first it was very difficult to practice because I was on a high from being so connected digitally. Now I look forward to my 24 hours of no iPhone, Twitter, Facebook or any other digital communication. I spend time reading, praying and getting closer to those around me in meatspace. It has really changed my life.
Bushnell mentions this and my friend and co-director at Soma Games, Nat Iwata writes about it in an excellent blog post. We need beauty. Again I find that as I strive and struggle to get ahead, beauty seems to fall off the schedule. I use tools like Instagram to post cool things I find through pictures. You can easily correlate the frequency of posts there with my level of stress. When I am relaxed and alive I post a lot of pictures. When I am under the gun so to speak they disappear.
Guarding our Hearts
Out of all scripture I think one of the verses that to this day has been most important to me is Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
This guarding manifests in many ways, and I think each of us has to explore what it means. For me it means being careful who I spend my time around. I pick up on moods and if people are constantly putting others down or stuck in mediocrity it can quickly steal my joy. What eventually happens is I lose drive and if I really let them in they will eventually steal more.
It can also mean being careful of the content I allow myself to digest. If it is bad for my kids it is usually bad for me. You are the best judge and can tell if your heart has stopped beating though. Go on a journey to find out when that beat died.
Going back to Bushnell’s talk, I would point out that all of the recommendations he gave for keeping innovation alive could be grouped together in his first recommendation, staying uncomfortable. All of us, if we have slipped too far into busyness will find any of his recommendations terribly uncomfortable. I read a great quote this weekend (I can’t remember the source) that said it is better to disrupt ourselves before others disrupt us. I would say the same thing and add life. But that is another blog post all together.
Go make yourself uncomfortable today.
You may also be interested in my post: The Connector Recharged