You Need an Adapter

“I’m going to need a new laptop,” I remember thinking. It was time. My old one had many miles on it, and like me, there were days when it was just, well, slow. Worse, though, it had developed a noticeable bulge on the bottom of its otherwise sleek platinum case, which caused it to wobble on my desk.

“That’s odd,” I thought.

“It’s one of your batteries,” explained the technician who was helping me set up a PowerPoint so that it would project on my client’s wall-sized monitor.

“It’s defective and could explode at any minute. And start a fire.”

 “What?” I said with penetrating disbelief.

“Here,” he said, quickly pulling up a video on YouTube.

“If the battery gets punctured,” he continued as we watched a hand plunge a butcher knife into a smartphone, “and gets exposed to air, it can explode and start a fire.”

We both watched as the phone was quickly engulfed in flames.

“No butcher knife,” I said, pointing to my briefcase.

“OK…” he said with a sigh that sounded a lot like “I warned you.”

He turned back to my laptop in an effort to get it to project. Moments later after expert fiddling, he turned to leave with: “It won’t work wirelessly with our system.”

“I’ll have to get an adapter.”

____________________

In the Apple store, I quickly settled on the 16” Mac Book Pro. Nice big screen and incredible visual clarity. Great sound. Lots of storage. Gun-barrel gray case. Sweet.

“But here’s the thing,” I told the 12-year-old-looking Apple support person, “It has to connect with my large monitor. When I work at home, I have to be able to use my large monitor because my eyes . . .”

“It’s not a problem,” she said reassuringly, “But your monitor is old technology.”

“You’ll need an adapter.”

. . .

Those conversations brought to mind some work I did many years ago when I was leading in-house innovation workshops. In an effort to keep the training mood light, I used to intersperse our sessions with what I hoped were humorous commercials that spoke to innovation. One of the commercials showed a technician walking a group of executives through a new adapter that could “connect anything to everything.”

“Will it work in Europe?” asks the executive at the head of the table.

Crickets and then:

“You need an adapter.”

____________________

These experiences got me thinking. I am about to turn 70.

  • A lot of social media leaves me scratching my head as to its value.
  • Many of today’s, um, “tunes” on Apple Music send me click, click, clicking for a different channel.
  • The newest technology? Sometimes I can barely spell that “technology.”
  • The Medicare manual, which is at least an inch thick, grins at me sarcastically from the corner of my desk.
  • And social and political divisions? Oy vey.

I know 70 is the new 60, but it would be easy to fall into the deer-in-the-headlights trap of thinking that the pace of change – and our domestic and global circumstances – seem to be outdistancing my ability or desire to keep up. It would be easy to pull the senior blanket up over my head and mumble “Wake me when….”

So…I needed an adapter.

____________________

And as it turns out, my adapter can be pretty well summarized from that paragon source of wisdom and inspiration, a scene from “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.”

INT. SECRET ROOM – DAY

Indy and Henry step into an empty room.

               INDY

Dead end.

Henry looks horrified by what he’s been forced to do as Indy searches frantically for an exit.

               INDY

There’s got to be a… a secret door around. A passageway or something.

Indy begins to run his hands over the walls — frantic.

               HENRY

I find that if I just sit down and think…

Henry sits on a chair which tips back, hitting the wall behind it. The floor at Indy’s feet suddenly begins DROPPING AWAY!

Indy grabs a railing to keep from falling, but loses his grip and plunges through the opening which has formed a SPIRAL STAIRCASE. He rolls down the stairs.

               INDY

Dad!

               HENRY

…the solution presents itself.

Henry follows Indy down the staircase.

___________________

I find that “if I just sit down and think,” or take a long walk sans electronics, or debrief with my brilliant wife at our kitchen table, a “solution presents itself.”

Pausing to think.

It wasn’t always so. For years, nay decades, my inner critic had me convinced that pausing to think made me look inadequate. “They all expect you to do or say something…fast!” it would hiss.

Not so today. I mentally wear “Pausing to think” like a merit badge. And when I do, the solution usually presents itself as

  • working a little less than I would have expected of myself years ago.
  • exercising when I feel like it.
  • focusing on what I can control.
  • staying out of that data-grabbing, time-sucking sound that is a lot of social media.
  • embracing those friends and colleagues who mean the most to me.
  • rejecting my lifelong tendency to catastrophize just about any event in the future.
  • cooking.
  • reading.
  • casting a fly for trout and
  • writing.

I have friends who may call my willingness to pause and think as being “mindful.” And maybe it is.

I call it my adapter.

Jeff Ikler
Jeff Iklerhttps://www.queticocoaching.com/
The river that runs through my career lives – as teacher, publisher, coach, podcaster and author – is helping individuals acquire knowledge, skills, and self-awareness so they can better achieve their desired results and impact. • As Director of Quetico Leadership and Career Coaching, I work with individuals and leaders to overcome obstacles and make sustained changes in their behavior. • I co-host the podcast “Getting Unstuck – Shift for Impact,” where I bring to light inspirational stories of transformation in the field of education. • I am the co-author of the soon-to-be-published book for school educators, Shifting: How Educational Leaders Can Create a Culture of Change.

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  1. This image is going to stick with me for a while, Jeff, the idea of needing an adapter to connect an older way of doing or thinking to a newer option that “should” improve the performance, or at least maintain it. I think of my adapters as the resources available to me, especially when it comes to things or technology I either don’t understand, don’t care to understand, or simply don’t want to spend time learning to understand.

    I used to fix my own car when the parts on a VW bug or Honda Accord were relatively simple. Now I ask one of our boys, or I find a mechanic I trust.

    There are lots of aspects of technology that are leaving me behind, so I plan to keep a great group of resources to help me when I need that “adapter.”

  2. Jeff great post. I like the adapter reference, yet I think I pause now and ponder if it is really something I really want to do. Do I need more technology than I have. I have say sometimes yes, sometimes no. Thank you for the piece, enjoyed it.

  3. Brilliant piece, Jeff! I love it. I, too, need an adapter, and I am perfectly fine with it. I find that I pause to think more now than I ever did. I like to digest what’s going on and be in the moment. So, maybe that’s why. And I’m always trying to connect the dots, so that could be it too. Regardless, taking that pause is like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for the dose of inspiration today!

  4. This is so great, Jeff! I have been that person looking for an adaptor… literally and now I know figuratively. What a great analogy! Pausing to think is not something that comes naturally to most of us, and, as you say here, is often uncomfortable. It’s a skill to be nurtured. This piece gives me a mental image to carry with me as I continue to work on it. Thank you!

    • Melissa — Part of my adapter “therapy” is a book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s a structured way to look at what we take on and why. His big point, which I really like, is “Do less, better.” I was conditioned in a number of ways to do the opposite. Pausing to evaluate options is one of the big steps here. Thanks for your read and comment. (ps It always makes me supremely happy when I think I did something of value for you, as I feel your writing and NeuroNuggets continue to provide so much value week in and week out.)

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