Reading time (in minutes): 2
Thinking time (in minutes): At least 5 (I hope)

"Hi, it's mom"
"I can see that, mom"

No matter how ‘hip’ and up with my time I do believe to be, sometimes one just can’t deny the years of age. Especially when it comes down to IT (what cloud?) and mobile technology, I do (hate to say it, more and more) resemble my mom from time to time, not knowing what button to push or where to find my information after the latest update. As in ‘where have all my pictures gone??’ or ‘how do I push play in stead of shuffle play?’.

On the downside, I do feel as if this far-reaching technology is nibbling our freedom and making us more and more dependent. Imaging forgetting your phone at the kitchen table in the morning. No option. For me anyway, it isn’t. “OMG you’re still using SMS!” one of my relatively younger coaching clients told me lately. “That is so old skool” he laughed. Then I tried to explain to him why I use SMS in stead of the app. That I am only doing it in respect of our professional relationship. In respect of his freedom, anonymity maybe even. How using the app, to me, is more like personal. With its easy use of emoticons in stead of words. And how I refuse to close everything up, as in hiding my ‘last seen’ status so people won’t see what time I went to bed last night (which is pretty handy anyway when you accidently miss your Saturday morning boxing training). He did not understand. “Just block the damn thing” he answered.

The above isn’t earthshattering, of course. And fair to say I am anything but an expert. On the other hand, it does make me think about how professional communication and its rules have been changing over the past decades and how that has been affecting business life in general. Before the existence of read receipts, you could still ‘pretend’ you hadn’t read that e-mail or message from your boss, colleague, supplier or client yet, now everyone is just ‘apping’ anytime of the day, leading to an overload of piled up messages more or less waiting for an immediate response. It never stops. We are getting more and more impatient and ‘ideal’ or desired response times are getting shorter and shorter. Younger generations entering mid level and management positions did not even experience a time where your phone was something used for calling and being called only. Not to mention you were picking up a phone without knowing who called. My daughter still laughs at me when I say “Hi, it’s mom” when she picks up the phone. “I can see that, mom” she invariably replies.

When working with people that tend to put work, or in general, others first, it can be extremely challenging to lower the impact of this easy to reach, fast-forward, real-time, 24/7, even global communication wave. Some of them really feel as if there are literally 700 paper letters in their front door letterbox, waiting to be sorted, opened, prioritized and replied to. All of this leading to an attitude that is more and more responsive, reactive in nature, in stead of what would be the ideal proactive approach in ones life and business. We are so focused on meeting the expectations of others, not to disappoint, not to keep them waiting, not to feel guilty, not to seem lazy, or uninterested, that we forget the most important question: ‘What is important to me right now?’.

My question for you is the same. What is important to you right now? Think about that next time you find yourself manoeuvring between read receipts, last seen statuses and 173 unread app messages.

What you do with the answer to that question?
That is entirely up to you.


About me – Being a certified executive and personal coach, I am associated to the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching team and owner of the global executive coaching practice BigFish4.me where I am working on an ambitious scale-up plan now that I’ve learned to ‘not having to do it all on my own’. More about that following soon. Next to that I’ve co-founded thehouseofgrowth.org in December 2018 and started working some hours a month for my old love, the Adecco Group (LHH) as well as for one of the biggest Dutch coaching practices in Amsterdam. My passions include playing my quarter grand piano and messing around with acrylic paint on large sized linen canvas. When I’m not catching some proverbial Big Fish, you’ll probably find me in my daily (nowadays kick-)boxing class, sweating terribly as I urgently need to lose weight again. But then again, I am still luckiest doing what I do best, challenging others and myself to perform at ‘our’ best