“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.
Henry looks horrified by what he’s been forced to do as Indy searches frantically for an exit.
There’s got to be a… a secret door around. A passageway or something.
Indy begins to run his hands over the walls — frantic.
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.
…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.
- casting a fly for trout and
I have friends who may call my willingness to pause and think as being “mindful.” And maybe it is.
I call it my adapter.