Leadership Starts by Being Present
The reason I perseverate on this notion of being present, being focused in the moment is because those constant distractions detract from our ability to set long term goals, right, understand? If we are constantly immersed in devices, in a media sea, in the mountain of towering email that's piling up, don't think about it. It detracts from our ability to conceptualize long term goals and what we want to accomplish in terms of our sense of purpose. I give you a few examples. If we want to be start by being present, we have to first put it down, and I give you an interesting little study from a woman named Shalini Misra. Shalini Misra is at Virginia Tech. She's at Virginia Tech. She takes a hundred of her students, she divides them into pairs, so there's 50 pairs, right? She puts them in a coffee shop, and asks them to have a conversation with each other. And then another student just watches from afar, just watches the body language, the posture, their interactivity, the presence of dev...
ices, et cetera. And she asked the students to have two kinds of conversations, the first is just kinda light, talk about the weather, the dog, your last vacation, and with the other conversation have something more meaningful, something more valuable, something closer to who you are, your identity. This is no surprise. "The mere presence of digital devices has the potential to divide consciousness between the immediate setting and the physically distant and invisible networks and contexts." Further, "People who had conversations in the absence of mobile devices reported higher levels of empathetic concern." Now, here's what's not surprising, you all know this, right? Pure research study tells us that upwards of 90% are aware of this, if not this specific research, we're intuitively aware of this. And yet it's tough, you know, it's tough to avoid that kind of dopamine trigger that we get from checking in on these kinds of devices, but I'll give you another example. Right before, everyone out there, the studio audience walked in here today, and they were asked to take notes longhand. I'll give you some data behind that. A woman named Pam Mueller, she's at Princeton University, she took 67 of her students, okay? Half women, half men, and she asked them to watch TED Talks, five, five different TED Talks, right, on pretty engaging and interesting subjects, but subjects that they knew nothing about, you know, drought in the Sahara versus the Serengeti or whatever, you know, really data-intensive kinds of TED Talks, and with half of them she said, "I want you to take notes on your laptop as you choose," and with the others, "Take notes on a notepad longhand, pen and paper, of course." And what she discovered is, this is no surprise, laptop notetakers perform significantly worse on conceptual questions. So after they watched these things, alright, they go into the classroom, they watch these TED Talks, then they take a break, and they distract the kids for half an hour, just kinda, and then give them a series of questions, half of them factual, half of them conceptual. So, for example, a factual question would be something like, how many years before the Indus Civilization collapsed? And then they'd have to recall that, but then the conceptual questions would be, how do Japanese and Australian cultures treat their indigenous populations. More kind of conceptual questions. Laptop notetakers perform significantly worse on conceptual questions. So if we slow down, get present, we can get closer to recognizing and articulating our sense of purpose and the impact and what we wanna do with our lives, this is a fun little quote from Mark Twain, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."