Einstein persevered

Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

While I’m fairly certain that Albert Einstein was, in fact, that smart, he raises a good point.  In an era of non-stop 140-character tweets, beeping e-mail, pinging IM’s, and buzzing text messages, we’re being trained to have shorter attention spans and barely any patience.

This is reality — not news — as my 17-year old daughter noted.  While maybe not news, I still feel bombarded by the growing number of ways in which everyone is being trained to talk and think in short, quick bursts.   Millenials never knew anything different.  But many Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are being reprogrammed as technology evolves.   (Apple’s iPad is the latest example.  Steve Jobs launched his latest wonder reclining in a leather arm chair — but this new product makes it easier and faster to flit between book, e-mail and internet searches.)

But while we are moving more quickly, and our brains crave more frequent stimulation, we still, like Einstein, need to s-l-o-w down and tune out all those noisy distractions in order to focus on a problem, mull the possibilities and come up with that solution, that idea, that way of phrasing a message that will prove to have been worth the added time.

  • Don’t rush to ask for help on a problem because you couldn’t immediately figure out a solution and you’re distracted by the new e-mails piling up in your inbox. Persevere, and then if you’re still stuck, absolutely talk the problem through with someone else.
  • Don’t hit send immediately after replying to a valued client’s question just because the digital clock on your laptop is reminding you that seven minutes have gone by.  Breathe.  Read the e-mail aloud.  Then save it as a draft for sixty minutes.   Then read it again — but this time as if you were your client opening the e-mail.
  • Don’t let the barrage of text messages and IMs rush you when you’re drafting an important proposal.  Instead, draft the proposal and let it sit for 24 hours (really…24 hours!).   More than eighty percent of the time you will make worthwhile edits.

I wonder if Einstein’s solutions would have been as brilliant if he’d interrupted his thought process to tweet or respond to a text or search for another song on his iPod.

One Response to “Einstein persevered”

  1. Barbara Casey says:

    Did you watch the recent episode called “Digital Nation” on Frontline? If not, you should check it out. Scary what is happening to us, our kids and the world. What used to take hundreds of years to evolve is happening almost before our very eyes. You should be able to find this episode online. Let me know what you think.

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