Speed has become the defining mark of our times. The pursuit of quick everything to a great extent is a product of aggressive technological development. And it is in fact, a commendable thing, particularly because it enables us to pack more value into the limited time we have to spend upon the earth.
I, for one, believe that the pursuit of speed and technological development is a valid expression of love for humanity because time is the substance that life is made up of, and anything that will save a person’s time invariably saves them from the challenge of squandering their precious lives.
This is why it is right to look for faster and easier ways of getting things done so that both our energies will be conserved while our time is being equally optimised. Any business or organisation that succeeds at both the conservation of man’s energy and time is definitely going to be compensated with handsome economic dividends.
Therefore, it is not the pursuit of speed that I am against but the by-products of its pursuit. A by-product is defined as “an incidental or secondary product made in the manufacture or synthesis of something else.” Any keen observer of production as an activity must be aware that every product has a byproduct and sometimes the incidental byproduct of a product can be worse than the product itself.Any keen observer of production as an activity must be aware that every product has a byproduct and sometimes the incidental byproduct of a product can be worse than the product itself. Click To Tweet
This reality is at the heart of the greenhouse gas activism that has taken the world by storm in recent years. The substance of this logic is simply that a beneficial product can have an inimical by-product. This is as true in the physical sphere as it is in the psychological spheres.A beneficial product can have an inimical by-product. Click To Tweet
This, in my view, is why parochial leadership, a leadership that lacks the capacity to take into consideration alternative viewpoints is the most destructive force in society. Parochialism tends to defend its particular views too rigidly, and therefore will be blinded to the by-product of their particular perspectives. When you take into consideration the influence that leaders exert on large numbers of people, you can begin to imagine the destructive scope of parochialism in leadership.Parochial leadership, a leadership that lacks the capacity to take into consideration alternative viewpoints is the most destructive force in society. Click To Tweet
Take for instance social media. It definitely has done a tremendous job in bringing people closer together, across multiple sociocultural backgrounds. It, however, may have unintentionally increased the superficiality of our relationships at the same time. This phenomenon is true for virtually every human activity. Your answer to these questions will help you confront this dilemma. Is every one of your friends on Facebook truly a friend? And is everyone following you on Instagram truly following you? Your realistic answer is definitely as good as mine.Is every one of your friends on Facebook truly a friend? And is everyone following you on Instagram truly following you? Your realistic answer is definitely as good as mine. Click To Tweet
This reality is part of the brokenness of human nature, as well as our world. Does this mean, therefore, that we are to halt innovation and production completely and return to the Paleolithic age? The answer is No! However, this means that every leader must have an eye for production as an objective and a second eye on the management of the negative by-products of the intentioned production as a secondary objective. This is why I agree with F.Scott Fitzgerald when he said “The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”.Every leader must have an eye for production as an objective and a second eye on the management of the negative by-products of the intentioned production as a secondary objective. Click To Tweet
The by-product of our culture of speed is impatience; the overwhelming expectation and frustration about things not happening fast enough. Already, we are beginning to see the emergence of a culture of brevity and abbreviation flourish among our young. This may be okay when abbreviating names or activities but it can be disastrous when applied to the graver issues of life.
This brings me to the concept of adjustable times and determined times. The world we live in is not just event-driven it is process-driven. There are things that can be rushed and probably should be rushed because they are subject to the concept of adjustable times. But there are things that are subject only to determined times and therefore cannot be rushed without disastrous consequences.
For instance, there are 24 hours in a day. That is determined time. The gestation period of a human being is normally 9 months. We may be able to quicken the pace of our accomplishments within 24 hours but we can’t add to the number of hours in a day. We may be able to quicken the pace of delivery by using drugs, but we cannot quicken the process of gestation. Even Christ, who most of us Christians believe is the greatest good to humanity, was sent to us when the fullness of time had come.
It is, therefore, maturity to accept the existence of both adjustable times and determined times, as a natural reality. The only area where man is probably willing and patient enough to extend time is in experiencing the pleasures of entertainment, as is evidenced in sex and the likes. Should moments of pleasure last forever? Doesn’t the overextension of pleasure lead to meaninglessness? And isn’t the value of pleasurable experiences defined and enhanced by the pauses between one pleasurable moment and the other?
This obsession with speed may foster in us, not only impatience but frustration with the natural process of things. It could also create a generation of quitters, who give up on things because the value took too long to happen for them. This obsession with speed could also lead to the total erosion of commitment in our generation because things don’t happen fast enough for them. This promotion of overnight success syndrome could become the very undoing of my generation.
As I write today, I am particularly hunted by statistics even from Microsoft that puts the average attention span of our generation at below 8 seconds. Most social media updates now are being advised not to exceed the 59-second limit if it will trend. Every knowledge professional is being warned now to keep it simple or quite frankly be ignored by my generation. As I write now I am besieged by the fear that many won’t even read long enough to get the point of my discourse.
It is true that communicators must learn not to waste the time of their audiences. It is, however, true that some things in life can not be understood in a hurry, like one’s children and spouse or even, a difficult subject. Gold and other precious gems are often never found on the earth’s surface and it will take time and labour-intensive digging and exploration to extract the most valuable things in life. And if we simply lack the patience it takes to get there, we have to simply do without them.
I am concerned that we are fast becoming a superficial generation that is known for reacting to people’s reactions without having thoroughly explored the subject matter, hence adding to the confusion in our cosmos.
A generation must arise that can strike a perfect balance between the management of adjustable times and determined times. This means they must be comfortable with waiting patiently for the things that require the investment of time and equally be adept at rushing with precision, the things that are subject to adjustable times by exploiting advances in technology.
Most of all, we must be aware that what many call frustration may well be the mismanagement of personal expectations regarding timing. Frustration is expecting the things that yield only to determined timing to respond to adjustable timing. Equally disastrous is the complacency of deferring to determined timing, what requires the promptness and precision it takes to maximize opportunities that answer to adjustable times. Wisdom is knowing the difference.