Being in my 50’s I remember when the computing power of today was just a science fiction dream, but now there seems to be a device or an app for almost everything.
I see my 9-year old son, regularly disappearing into a virtual world, and I feel uneasy. I wonder if perhaps he won’t develop the required physical and psychological muscles for success in the real world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Luddite, I don’t want to break the machines, in fact I think the with right approach, technology enhances our ability to be successful.
Technology Hacks for Self-leadership
Self-leadership is the practice of influencing yourself to achieve your objectives (Bryant & Kazan 2012). Whether your objective is to get fit or become the CEO of your own or another company, then self-leadership is required to get there.
Used appropriately, technology can now support three aspects of your self-leadership practice:
Just like Pavlov’s famous dogs who were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell, you and I can be triggered to engage in behaviors that move us towards or away from our objectives. The earliest form of technological triggering, might be, the alarm clock. We set and audible trigger to wake us up and get to work on whatever it is that will move us towards success, whether that be going to the gym at 6am or catching a flight to an important meeting.
As I started writing this post, a programmed alarm triggered me to “get up and move”, because I had been sitting at my computer for over an hour.
Triggers cause Stress
Each time we are triggered, we experience an increase in stress. Now this stress can be useful if it gets us up and moving, but harmful if it’s the constant interruption of our focus with e-mail alerts. So hack #1 is to choose your triggers carefully. Turn off all unnecessary alerts, email, Whatsapp, Facebook etc. and turn on alerts that get you moving towards your goals.
Get a PC timer and set specific amount of time for doing certain things. For example, you could set 20 minutes for answering emails. This kind of discipline creates focus, and focus is a key ingredient of success.
Feedback is the breakfast of Champions
If you wish to improve by modifying your behavior, then feedback is the key, and technology now provides a full buffet of feedback options.
For an article on feedback and behavior change click here, but a simple example would be speaking in public. Success requires us to communicate our ideas and value, which inevitable means some kind of public speaking. Having coached many people to improve their public speaking or executive presence, I can attest to the power of reviewing a speech by video. Just getting a friend to use their smartphone to video your practice and real performance can be transformational if you take the feedback. You will quickly spot where you need to slow down, add pauses, make eye contact and use gestures.
In Human Resources speak – “what gets measured gets done”. Do you track your steps, your food intake, your weight, your time spent in focused activity? Technology allows us to get accurate feedback on all these things.
I have a Fitbit that lets me know if I have hit my goal of 10,000 steps and 5-exercise sessions per week. I also have a set of scales that wirelessly send my weight and body fat to the app so that I know if I am increasing my weight or the desired lean muscle mass! Technology is even improving my dental hygiene as my toothbrush now tells me when I have met the target of 2-minutes brushing!
Too much? Well hack #2 is to get feedback on your goals. Just moving in the right direction, energizes and motivates us to keep going.
Give me a lever long enough
Archimedes famously said, “Give me a lever long enough and I can move the world”, and success requires leverage. Successful people have mastered the art of leveraging their impact, a key factor of self-leadership. Take a vocal artist, for example Madonna; such an artist can earn money from singing in a club, and more from ticket sales to a concert, but it’s the leverage that technology provides in the form of records or downloads, that makes the difference.
Once upon a time, you need a PR agency to get leverage; now even kids have YouTube channels with millions of subscribers. If you don’t have a Social Media presence, then you are significantly limiting your influence and personal brand, inside and outside your organization. If you are a subject matter expert, or want to influence opinion, you have to use apps like LinkedIn to leverage your impact.
In movies like Alien 2, and Matrix 3, we first saw human being augmented by powerful Exoskeletons. Such technology now exists to help humans lift and move objects beyond normal physical capacity.
What about extending our psychological strength? We already have search engines to rapidly access information, and with Big Data, we can now predict certain behaviors of money or people. So hack #3 is to think bigger, technology doesn’t disrupt by itself, it’s the idea that technology facilitates, that changes the world!
The future is a Brave New World, that my son and your children will inherit. How do we prepare ourselves to embrace this technology in a way that we remain in control, as self-leaders and not as battery hens?
The answer? One app at time!