We are Human beings not human doings

July 18th, 2006 | by dnw |

JP has some thoughts about humans multitasking which came out of something Edward Hallowell said in an article about what Mr Hallowell terms ‘Attention Deficit Trait’.

Quoting the bit that sparked this from an article from the The Economist (not the interview article linked above):

……. “Mr Hallowell says that people who work in physical isolation are more likely to suffer from ADT than those who share a lively office”.

A fairly simple, if somewhat sweeping, statement. And yet something seemed strange to me. The thing I couldn’t figure is how Mr Hallowell reconciles the statements that “people who work in physical isolation are more likely to suffer from ADT than those who share a lively office” and also says, in the interview on the link above from Digerati’s Domain, “You need to set limits and preserve time to think. Warren Buffett sits in a little office in the middle of nowhere and spends a lot of his time just thinking. And we are not giving ourselves that opportunity.

On the surface these seemed contradictory to me. In one instance he is using the example of a man working in isolation as a good thing, spending a lot of time ‘just thinking’. Then in another place makes the quoted statement about people working in isolation being a bad thing.

The ingredient that puts this apparent dichotomy in a complimentary light is the man used as the example, Warren Buffett.

The issue is the person.

I’ve written previously about how people living with disability can be socially isolated and how the ingredient lacking in such cases is connection. While I might be disabled and hence share some of the inherent by-products that come with the territory, fortunately I am not too socially isolated due to good connections that exist in family, friends, work colleagues and you people reading this!

‘Social Isolation’ and ‘Working in Isolation’ are different things. I have worked full-time for over a decade in the job I have and all tat time have worked three days at the office and two days from home. My boss is a wise man who insisted I have the regular contact with other staff. He understands my needs as well as the business needs.

But this wouldn’t be wise for everyone in every situation. People are different. The very reasons Warren Buffet can be alone and yet not have ADT is due to way he is. When it comes to motivatin, my mate Mike has made the observation that basically there’s people that are, as he puts it, ‘Externally clocked’ and others who are ‘Internally clocked’. To my mind, motivation and personality are key to issues of who works best in what environment.

Not being able to multitask without having ADT isn’t necessarily a natural by-product of isolation.

Being essentially a ‘one-man-band’ as far as IT responsibility where I work goes, and that we are a small organisation, ADT is more likely to be from sheer work load rather than isolation. Isolation, like when I work from home, gives good opportunity to be productive without interruptions from other physical humans (not saying a thing about the telephone or other ‘virtual human’ interruptions) and to organise my time for that ‘time to think’.

We are Human beings not human doings.

Isolation is not a matter of numbers or geography. It’s a matter of connection – or more correctly, non-connection. To that degree it is a matter of ‘being’ not ‘doing’.

When we define ourselves, or a culture tries to define us, – our worth, and our value – by what we do, we in fact begin to devalue who we are. This is why economic rationalism is perverse. It puts an arbitrary value, determined by the market, on our output or outcomes. It entrenches the noise screaming at us that we are merely producers, when buried deep within us, somewhere behind the ‘busyness’ of business, we sense, discern, the signal that we are more than just that.

Action is the perfect anodyne for a soul that knows instinctively it was made for contemplation.

To get best for people, or even out of people, surely we need to see them as people first.

This is why at Lifekludger it will always be about the people, and the technology serving the people in their lives, not making slaves of them.

* *

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.