It’s not just the Millennials who have an issue with technology

There’s a clip on YouTube of Simon Sinek talking to Tom Bilyeu about millennials in the workplace which has been viewed over 9 million times. If you haven’t seen it before, here it is – and it’s well worth watching:

(You can also read a transcript here if you’d prefer that)

The talk is about why millennials aren’t happy at work and Sinek talks about the missing piece – or the missing four pieces – that he sees:

  1. Parenting
  2. Technology
  3. Parenting
  4. Environment

It was his words on technology which particularly struck me – here are a few key sentences:

‘An entire generation now has access to an addictive, numbing chemical called dopamine, through cell phones and social media, while they are going through the high stress of adolescence.’ 

‘…because we are allowing unfettered access to these devices and media, basically it is becoming hard-wired and what we are seeing is that they grow older, too many kids don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships.’

‘Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practiced the skill set and worse, they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress begins to show up in their lives, they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief.’

‘These things balanced, are not bad. Alcohol is not bad, too much alcohol is bad. Gambling is fun, too much gambling is dangerous. There is nothing wrong with social media and cell phones, it’s the imbalance.’

As I watched it and thought about the conversations I have with my coaching clients, I realised that Sinek’s comments don’t just apply to millennials. My client list ranges from those in their twenties to those in their fifties and that imbalanced place of technology in our lives comes up time and time again. Sure, the older clients may be digital immigrants rather than digital natives but the lure of the screen can be just as strong.

Just before the recent UK half-term school break, a client – let’s call her Megan – and I came up with a list of actions order to help her step away from her devices and step towards more face-to-face interactions.

Be pragmatic

Megan’s phone has a ‘screen time’ feature which tells her how much time she spends doing what on her various devices: that made sobering reading! However, going ‘cold turkey’ and locking away all her devices wasn’t going to work for Megan. For a start, she no longer owns a stand alone camera and she didn’t want to miss out on taking photos of her family on holiday.

Megan decided that she didn’t need access to her laptop or her tablet at all for a week so she would leave them in a drawer at home.

We then went through her phone and reviewed her apps. Megan decided to temporarily deactivate most of her social media accounts. On reflection, she decided to permanently delete Twitter on the basis that it seemed to lead her into having – or ‘listening in on’ – unhelpful conversations with strangers: conversations she’d never have had in real life.

Rather than temporarily remove her work email app from her phone, Megan decided to allocate 15 minutes each morning and evening to review and if necessary reply to any messages. She decided to have her phone set to ‘do not disturb’ using the feature which would allow calls from selected individuals to come through.

Having realised from her screen time analysis that she was going to have about 90 minutes extra free each day over the week, she asked her family how she should spend that time. Board games, cooking dinner together, playing outside, watching a film together, making a kite, and going window-shopping all went on the activity list. Megan also asked her children to be in charge of taking photos with her phone and at the end of the day, they reviewed the photos together and selected one photo to post on her social media account.

As the holiday is now over, I asked Megan how it went. She admitted that she’d gone over her 15 minute limit a couple of times with work emails but apart from that it had been a success. ‘The first couple of days were quite hard – I kept reaching for my phone whilst watching the children play – but then I made a conscious effort to put the phone down and go and play with them. My husband and I have decided that we’re going to start putting our phones away on Saturday nights and not picking them up again until Monday morning. We’ve had to go and buy an alarm clock though!’

Simon Sinek would be very happy to hear that.

Today’s pebble for your thoughts: is it time for you to audit your use of technology and make some changes?

I’m not immune to the lure of technology either so I’ve decided to take a step back for a fortnight: I’ll be back on the blog on 23 November.


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a coach to help you succeed and make the most of your potential,
why not email me to see how we can work together?

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