Decisions, decisions…

Depending on what you do for a living, you might find that you make decisions all day. For some it might be an adrenaline rush, and for others it might drain the crap out of you. Regardless of whether decision-making is easy for you, it can be a draining part of your life. You need to be able to have a time to recharge the batteries in your brain to ensure all the wires are working properly. Without that recharge time, it might mean you begin to make decisions that are not the best for you and those impacted by your decisions.

How do you recharge though, if there never feels like an open window that will allow you to do so? Sometimes talking things through out loud is just enough to know the right answer. Other times you might just need a day off, and delegate the task of decision-making to someone else. You might also just need a long night of sleep.

Chris is used to me knowing what I want most of the time. Just because I know what I want, it does not mean that my desire is the answer. We still need to talk about it and come to a decision together. At times he might share information with me that might sway my decision and other times I feel clear from the beginning and know just what needs to happen. There are days when I come home (usually it is Friday) when I let him know I do not want to make the simplest decision — such as what I might want to eat for dinner. What throws him off is that 99% of the time I have an opinion, so that 1% of the time just feels odd and he can feel under pressure to then figure out what would make me happy or be best in the situation. The reality in this case is that my brain just cannot process another piece of information and I feel like a zombie.

Be sure to take the time to recharge your mind and body so that you can continue to make the best decisions for you and your family. It all starts with listening and it helps when you have an advocate that looks out for your best interest.

No cell phones allowed in Green Bank, WV

Can you imagine a place with no cell phones? It is harder and harder to find. You almost have to go to a remote island, or a place with no cell phone reception (see these seven locations where you can escape the Internet). Last week I was traveling for work, and while in the airport waiting for a flight, I saw on the news a mention of Green Bank, West Virginia, and that cell phones are not allowed. They are part of the “National Radio Quiet Zone.” See the picture in the link — the zone is enormous.

Intrigued? I was. It is often hard to imagine a place where cell phones do not exist. Green Bank has a population of 143. Why no cell phones? The Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The GBT is part of the reason that it is a law in Green Bank that you cannot have a cell phone. The GBT is the largest, fully steerable radio telescope in the world. This excerpt from a National Geographic article explains it a bit more:

“Because of its vast size and sophisticated design, the GBT is exquisitely sensitive to even the faintest radio pulses coming from space. For the same reason, it is also extremely susceptible to electronic interference. Any device that generates electromagnetic radiation—a cell phone, a television, a wireless Internet router—can skew its data. And so the people who live in these parts must, by law, forego some of the gadgets that most of us take for granted.”

Would you want that kind of life? Maybe for a vacation, but could you handle it 365 days a year? I am addicted to information and I am not sure how I could go without the Internet. A phone – yes, I could probably go without a phone, but not the Internet. Check out the National Geographic article for more details on all the discoveries that have been made due to the GBT. Oh, and they need another 9 million dollars if you are interested.

Your full attention

Lately I have been thinking about the idea of asking another person for their full attention. How many times do you go into someone’s office and they do not give you their undivided attention? They might for a few minutes and then maybe they get distracted by their phone or computer and you wonder, is my meeting important to them? On the flip side, I also wonder if I give everyone my full and undivided attention? Are we all in the end just the same? Someone does not give us their attention and we in turn do that to someone else?

What would it look like if we were direct and transparent with everyone about our attention? What if we confronted others when we were not getting what we deserved? What would that look like? Would it mean that we actually called someone out when they stopped focusing on the conversation, tuned out, or got distracted? I am actually getting excited thinking about it. I would love if someone did that to me and held me accountable for when I was getting distracted. In turn I hope I would do that for others that do it to me.

Are our phones and computers, the emails, texts, and whatever other notifications really more important than the person that sits right in front of us? Sometimes they are. Sometimes emergencies happen or are boss alerts us to an urgent need, but many times we get bored, or clearly are easily distracted. I am not exempt from this — I need to focus on where my attention is just the same. Chris and I were just talking about it last night. There are times where I am doing too many things at once and my nature to multi-task means I might miss things along the way. However, in the same conversation we discussed that he had not given the needs of the conversation his clear attention. What he was thinking might not have been what he actually shared aloud and due to the lack of information there were key details that I needed that never got shared.

Our full attention is important in so many interactions. At the deepest level it shows that we care, and that the other person matters. I would say I do give a lot of my life my full attention, but I can see some clear areas that I could work on. Try it. See where you are not giving your full attention. Put your phone down, quit texting, and leave the emails. Be present for the other person, they deserve it.

Encyclopedias were my Google

I am not that old, but I did not grow up with the Internet at my fingertips. Instead, I had World Book Encyclopedias. They were not cheap either. At one point my mom sold encyclopedias. I always found it kind of odd. However, looking back I have a hunch she sold them so that we could have the sample set in our house. Whenever we would ask a question about something my mom would tell us: “Look it up.” I was never really a fan of pulling out the volumes that were massive like “S” and always wondered what was in the volumes like “Z.” “Q” (like Z) were in mint condition because they were rarely opened.

I had not really thought about encyclopedias in years, until I read this in the book: “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family” by Kathleen Flinn:

“Encyclopedia salesmen were a fixture of suburban America in the 1950s and 1960s, widely mocked by comedians. Regardless of the brand, the hard sell invariably included an expression of grave concern that a potential client’s children would suffer without having a ‘library in the living room.’ Most offered a payment plan to help ease the impact of the investment, which could be the equivalent of half a year’s rent.” Page 81

Her book is such a great memoir and reminder of so many items long forgotten in life, such as Chef Boyardee (which I wrote about a few days ago). It is actually incredible if you think about how fast the sharing of information has changed over the years. In addition to encyclopedias, we also had issues upon issues of National Geographic. While some of the covers and photos inside horrified me, it was a view into other parts of the world. Now we can do that in just a few clicks.

Today we are spoiled rotten. We do not have to wait to print a new version of encyclopedias and know that the money we shelled out for an entire edition of encyclopedias are old the second they are printed. We can read more than one can ever imagine after a few key strokes. We have instant access to good information and instant access to time-wasting information. It makes it much harder to know the integrity of the details, but there is plenty of it, and it is fast. We never have to worry about having a “library in the living room.”

Sometimes we need a little context

Lately I have been thinking about the idea of context. So often we are only given a morsel of information, and it does not give the full picture. If we were given the full context of a situation, we might respond differently. Have you ever thought about it?

When you answer a question your child asks, do you answer it entirely, go the easy route, or give them the full context they need to ensure understanding? At work, when training a colleague, do you tell them just the details they need to know, or do you share the full context of why you have trained them a specific way? Might the entire picture help the training stick? It could allow them to fully understand why taking specific steps is so important. Does it help your spouse if you share the full story of why you might need them to run a few errands, or do you just ask that they go and do them?

Context tells the story. It weaves background information, and often gives the “why.” As I have been pondering context in my daily life, I have been trying to think about the full picture and when it is the right time to include context in a conversation. If you are giving a presentation on a topic you have been involved in for quite a few months, do you go to the nitty-gritty detail, or do you take a step back and give an overview first, make sure everyone listening to your presentation is on the same page, and then proceed with more specific detail? Does that help others to understand the full scope?

It helps. It really does. I am trying to approach each day ensuring that I give just the right amount of context (not too much, and not too little). My hope is that by sharing the necessary information, it will mean that others can make more educated decisions. Context shows that we are not just making decisions on a whim, but that there is a story that is directing us.

What do you think?