I'm starting to see more cell phones clipped onto belts and the backs of purses, and even hand-held computer devices such as Palms and Blackberries right next to the cell phones. In many cases these computer devices replace the need for a cell phone while at the same time making us more connected (all of the time). With them we have instant messaging, e-mail and voice mail.
I was speaking with the Vice President of a fairly large high-technology company. He told me that he and his wife had gone to the symphony the previous night. He was even more proud of the fact that he sent a message or two from his Blackberry to close an important software deal right in the middle of the performance! I asked him what type of classical music was being performed at the symphony, and more importantly, I asked, ‘how did the music make you feel?'
He rattled off Beethoven in name only, but gave me a completely blank expression when he attempted to answer how he was feeling. I am sure that this had quite a lot to do with his preoccupation on ‘closing his deal. ’ He was so connected through his technology that he was disconnected from the experience. This separation anxiety happens while on vacation too. According to a study of large firms conducted by Mindy Fried at Boston College, 32 percent of employees worked while they were on ‘vacation’ while 58 percent of managers did. This percentage is probably much higher if leisure activities such as symphonies are taken into account.
A major benefit of practicing photography is that it requires being present. I need to take the time to study a scene so I can anticipate the shot. If there are children running around a fountain for instance, I need to have my eye constantly in the viewfinder to capture the best expressions. If my cell phone is ringing or if I sat down to answer my e-mail, I would miss the moment and the photograph.
According to Joe Robinson in his book, “Work to Live, " “The speed and seduction of E-tools has forced a massive abdication of personal boundaries. " The illusion of increased technology is that we feel we can get more done in less time. In effect we get less done because we become too busy trying to juggle all of our activities, rushing from work, to pick up the kids from soccer practice and then to a quick dinner. We need to slow down and stay in the moment so that each of our activities has more meaning whether it is having an intimate conversation, enjoying the symphony, or writing a work-related proposal.
I make it a point to turn off my electronic devices during an assignment. I don't want to miss a good conversation with the employees of a company event I am photographing or with the participants after one of my professional speaking engagements. When I go to a performance, I leave my camera in its’ case, and when I am on vacation, I don't check e-mail or voice mail. I am able to be more effective and present when I am working, playing and on vacation by setting clear boundaries. By not always being connected through technology, I find that I have a much better connection to myself.
Mark Sincevich works with individuals and organizations to increase their communication power so that they gain a fresh perspective, generate new ideas, sharpen the focus and create more business. He uses a unique photography angle in his creative keynotes, meeting facilitation and powerful presentation skills programs. Mark is the Founder and Chief Perspective Officer of Staash Press, a member of the National Speakers Association and the Executive Director of the Digital Photography Institute. In between assignments, Mark can be found spending time with his family or writing in cafés with character. He can be contacted at 301-654-3010 or http://www.staashpress.com