I just finished reading Thomas Friedman’s latest book Thank Your For Being Late. Friedman’s thoughts and research unexpectedly moved me both personally and professionally. Allow me to share a few simple thoughts:
The Power of a Pause During an era where busy is the new black, Friedman acknowledges the gift we give ourselves when we make a few moments to take a pause. During that pause, we can be more mindful about what’s happening right in front of us. We can settle our thoughts and connect our ideas better. As a freelance writer with a rewarding full time career, my mind is constantly racing. Internally I am generating questions and ideas at a rate impossible to capture and connect with what’s truly impactful. Pausing versus propelling to act gives me more time to flush out solutions, assess opportunities and appreciate the moment. Taking just a moment to focus on the journey of our professional performance, rather than the destination actually helps with our development and enhances our experience. It’s from taking the time to pause that allows us to pinpoint the important parts of our journey. As a result we fail faster and recall steps to success with much more ease.
Connection through Globalization Friends, we are truly more connected that I thought. Friedman builds a timeline of the technological advancements and highlights that make your colleague on the other side of the planet feel like your offices are in the same building. Gone are the days in which we consume information and keep it for competitive advantage. Today we advance by contributing to the conversation. Thanks to these advancements bringing us closer together, we can contribute at unprecedented levels. The knowledge of the greater collective is what moves our culture forward. I’ve been wrestling with this idea of consumption vs contribution. I’ve dreamed of being a writer my entire life. After spending the better part of last year reading 112 books, I realized my desire to share all I’d learned was also a responsibility to contribute to the collective from which I’d learned so much. Thus, making the decision to become a freelance writer a no brainer. We all have thoughts, ideas, passions to contribute. Think of all the platforms in which you consume information, art, entertainment, peace or connection. The simple acquisition of content is no longer enough, we are truly enhanced and making steps toward advancing when we apply what we learn and share it with others.
Stop Ignoring the “Black Elephants” in Life. Turns out, there are some dangerous effects with “the power of many”, like climate change. Friedman shares the definition of the “black elephant” on p.158 of this book: “A black elephant, it was explained to be by the London-based investor and environmentalist Adam Sweden, is a cross between a black swan-a rare, low-probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications-and the elephant in the room: a problem that is widely visible to everyone, yet that no one wants to address, even though we absolutely know that one day it will have vast, black-swan-like-consequences.” This black elephant concept is in reference to climate change in the book. It immediately caused me to think of the black elephants in my own life and business such as the professional relationships I need to cultivate, causes that are important to me like literacy, health care, racial, social, and economic equality. There are small decisions that will lead to larger moments later on in life. In the book, Friedman shares 4 phrases in climate change that are basically red flags:
- Just a few years ago…but then something changed
- Wow, I’ve never seen that before
- Well, usually, but now I don’t know anymore
- We haven’t seen something like that since
These are all phrases that if you find yourself saying or thinking in reference to climate change, you should really be doing something. We need to take action at all levels to influence policy making. If the government won’t take action, we still can still influence change in our own practices, with our voice, our vote, and the companies and organizations we support. As for the black elephants in our personal lives, the same steps apply.
Friends, this is a unique age in our lives. We must seize this opportunity to engage with one another and connect like never before. You’ve heard the expression “Start with what you have”. This book is an optimistic reminder that we have so much! We have more resources available to us today than at any other point in history. What will you do with this access? How will you responsibility contribute and leave the world better than you found it and in only a way you can? Take that pause, connect/contribute, and take ownership of those black elephants.