In this digitally connected world, I often hear about how people feel blindsided by how fast each day goes by. Without having been brought up or schooled on the new digital world, most executives still don’t even know how to type accurately and fast with ten fingers. Some (many?) still have to remind themselves where the notification settings lie in the smartphone. That is: as opposed to having a second reflex to revisit your settings on a regular basis (especially after system upgrades).

Level 1 – All hands on deck

I refer to this as living in Level 1. In the figure below, it is the outer ring. It’s a world where we are being submitted to a bombardment of messages, notifications and invasions. These come in the form of too many emails, a backlog of voice messages and connection requests on Linkedin and Facebook. In this level, people will have notifications that regularly pop up and/or buzz on their smartphone and, in pavlovian fashion, can’t help but peep an eye at the incoming message. It’s like opening the email inbox and reading emails without acting on them. We are polluting our minds, distracting our attention and, frustratingly, not achieving everything we set out to do.

Digitally Connected World

Making sense in a digitally connected world 

Level 2 – Achievers

In this level (in dark purple in the figure above), people have taken the bull by the horns. The messages and notifications have been organized in such a way as to make the true strategic topics and VIP’s always stand out. Using the settings, as well as novel applications and platforms (e.g. Sanebox, Inbox by Gmail…), there is a systematic vetting and parsing of incoming messages. Time for writing and publication is set aside in a disciplined manner. Despite the massive amounts of data analyzed, messages managed and relevant content published, in this Achiever Level 2, we also find time for two other important things:

  1. taking care of yourself and the people in your inner circle;
  2. embracing chaos, which I also like to characterize as serendipity.

Chaos (and its cousin, change) is an ineluctable part of our daily lives. In the world of astrophysics, chaos is a necessary reality. Similarly, in our lives, we must know that unexpected events are inevitable. But, beyond embracing chaos in our digitally connected world, it is also vital that we keep learning and expanding. By being open to learning, one is ensured vitality. Meeting someone knew, reading something different, tasting new foods, etc., are vital components of our experimental and experiential lives. But, only by having the discipline to filter and master the incoming waves of messages and notifications, can one truly find that extra time.

Level 3 – Finding sense

This is all about being “in the zone.” The key to this “inner circle” is that the parameters and actions of Level 2 have all been passed through a special filter:

to what extent does every action I take help achieve my purpose?

news_compass digitally connected world

I like to talk about one’s purpose as one’s “North” (due credit to N.E.W.S.). The North direction is your mission. Ultimately, it is why you exist. When you do activities that serve your purpose, that help you get on your way toward achieving your mission, you feel naturally energized. You know why you are doing what you do and that feeling elates you. You are being busy for a good reason. The VIPs in your list are, by definition, a cross between personal and professional people. You take care of yourself, because without you, there is no mission control. You enhance yourself by allowing to meet new people and rise to the challenge of understanding the new because there may be ways and reasons to boost your mission.

Setting your North has never been more important

The big challenge for people, on a personal level and for businesses, more generally, is that people don’t take the time to understand their North. Without the filter of one’s Northerly purpose, the consequence is a lot of spinning wheels. And, worse, for those who have not taken the initiative to get on top of their communications — which are the lifeblood of any organization — the risk is a loss of direction and burnout. I have seen this happen time and again with individuals and in business. With the plethora of choices and the tsunami of incoming messages, finding one’s North provides a guiding pole to cut through the clutter. {Tweet this!}

On a personal level, the real Valhalla is when the purpose of the brand for which you are working is clear, and it strongly aligns with your own personal purpose and values. {Tweet this!}

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