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Guest Blogger - Lisa Montgomery

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Gateway’s CEO, Paul Thomas, is currently on annual leave. In his absence, this week’s guest blogger is Lisa Montomery. Lisa is a respected leader, commentator and consumer advocate within the Australian financial services industry. In 2004, Lisa joined Resi Mortgage Corporation as Head of Consumer Advocacy and was elevated to CEO in 2010. Prior to her role at Resi, Lisa was Head of Consumer Information and Advocacy for Wizard Home Loans. Lisa is a nationally recognised consumer advocate who provides regular commentary for news.com.au, national radio and television. 

Technology angst and the impact of being ALWAYS ON!

Is it true that the more connected we become, the more lonely we actually are?

Firstly, it’s important to note that I am as attached to my digital platforms as much as the next person. In business, mobile telephones and computers are the tools of the trade, the devices that deliver and distribute sounds, words, numbers, thoughts and instructions, and for some of us – small, round, yellow icons that convey feelings and moods.

In fact, unless the interaction is face to face, these are the virtual platforms that connect us to the rest of the world every minute of every day.

For some of us the relationship we have with our mobile device borders on obsessive. We can flip them out of our pockets with the speed and skill of a quick drawing cowboy – sometimes not looking for anything in particular, nothing in fact, but hoping that something will appear.

We walk and text at the same time, we sleep with them beside us, they are often the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing at night. They are as common at the dinner table as a fork and spoon, an ever-present risk in the car, the replacement newspaper in the bathroom. And if we leave home without them, a fear and dread usually reserved for life’s serious threats and emergencies descends.

But does all this connection really bring us joy? How does this repetitive ‘daily noise’, music, words, images - impact how we work and more importantly how we live?

In truth, managing our digital responsibilities leaves us distracted and exhausted, and we are now so used to it – that most of us are not even aware of its extent.

Messaging platforms in particular drive essential and non-essential information to our devices usually with an expectation of a response. The little red circle and the number it contains glowing in the corner of the icon - a constant reminder that we are yet to read or respond to the information, placing subliminal pressure on us and more importantly on our precious time.

The very fact that when we wake each morning we automatically reach for our phone even before we reach for our loved one, is a clear testament to our need. Those first messages we often read, local and global news sites, emails and messages, rarely contain good news or words of personal praise, they can often be negative and challenging.

But is the food we serve our brains first thing every morning, breakfast for our grey matter if you like, and its neither healthy or nutritious and is impacting how we start our day and how we see ourselves and others – and most of us simply don’t know it.

To a large extent our virtual connections can make us feel less about ourselves. Why? Because these connections simply don’t nurture us, they can lead us to lose touch with what’s truly important in life and result in low levels of what I call real meaning.

And while we spin our wheels trying to manage all this digital information we forget about (or don’t have time for) true connection.

So how do we achieve this balance between our virtual and physical worlds?

Well the answer for each of us will differ, as it depends on just how far down the rabbit hole we have fallen, and whether we truly seek to change it.

Late last year I had the good fortune of listening to Marc Lesser present at a leadership forum, Marc is a former CEO and co-founder of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. His book, Accomplishing More By Doing Less shows us the benefits of actually doing less in a world that has increasingly embraced MORE. The ideas and practices that he outlines offer a radical yet simple approach to transformation.

He speaks to the image of ourselves that we carry around – it’s usually one of being busy all the time – it’s like a religion – it’s our default mechanism. Our overwhelming commitment to being ‘busy’ often consumes us to the point where we don’t have time to get everything done we think we need to – we are existing to receive and respond to digital correspondence instead of enjoying each moment.

So perhaps an interesting exercise might be to observe just how your life is impacted by being ALWAYS ON.

And if indeed you seek balance, what are you personally prepared to let go of to restore it?

Like the fable of the boiling frog, perhaps we don’t see (or choose to see) the danger as we become even more consumed by our digital responsibilities. But slowing down and creating more space to think and be, removing the constant noise and the little things that soak up your time, will provide greater opportunity to cultivate meaningful connection, true connection.

And like anything we don’t consume in moderation, balancing our priorities when it comes to our digital reliance will take time and discipline to achieve, but like Marc Lesser says, Less is definitely More.

Regards,
Lisa Montgomery

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