The new 7 deadly sins of the workplace
Are you guilty of proclaiming yourself 'too busy'?
A lot has changed since the 4th century, when the seven deadly sins are believed to have emerged. We have Wi-Fi now. And Uber. And Netflix. And Nest. And Snap. And a whole host of moral conflicts and societal breakdowns that came with them. Technology has fundamentally changed the dynamics of our relationships and working lives and our personal expectations.
These seven modern sins shouldn't overshadow some of the amazing leaps we've taken as a society, and the collective values that have started to emerge, such as transparency, accountability, and unity. However, progress begot these modern sins, both personal and societal. So here they are--the new seven deadly sins and how they show up in the business world.
We have more choice than we know what to do with. So we make our plans in pencil, just in case something better comes along. This is the new norm and has somehow become synonymous with a lackadaisical attitude. But really, it's flakiness--and it's a form of cowardice. At work, it means we're saying yes to a lot of ideas and options, just in case one of them comes through strong. We focus on short-term highs rather than long-term gains, especially as our culture celebrates the overnight-success stories and billion-dollar IPOs instead of the stories of hard work and ruthless commitment that spanned decades.
Guilty: You say yes to everything--and cherry-pick what you will actually work on according to its appeal in the current moment.
Try This:Commit to fewer, meatier projects and see them through. Focus will get you further.
Not even our laundry can wait an hour, thanks to Tide and Amazon Dash. We want (and get) everything now. Patience is a virtue no one has time for. At work, we expect a promotion after we've done our job seamlessly--for two whole months. Impatience is at an all-time high, and it's in bed with entitlement. To get ahead, we're scrambling over virtues like dedication, commitment, and hard work in pursuit of something that's low on effort and high on reward--and a visible reward that we can flaunt, no less.
Guilty: You sigh audibly and skulk around the office when your IT manager insists you reboot and upgrade your computer.
Try This: If you're waiting on something specific, walk around the block and clear your head rather than count the minutes. Rather than criticize all the shortcomings of the category that's frustrating you, use it as an opportunity to practice ideation. If you're frustrated by the line at Starbucks, use the time to imagine the technology and human touches touches that would alleviate the stress and how you would reinvent the process.
3. Fame hunting
It used to be just our celebrities and sports stars who were famous. Yet today entrepreneurs, CEOs (and their offspring), politicians, designers, chefs, and even people who can curate a beautiful Instagram feed are stars. Society has always needed a set of people to admire, but the tools of today make a rapid ascension to stardom available, and appealing, to all. The result? A lot of actions done with the goal of fame, rather than to improve the status quo. This means lots of shortcuts and hacks to find the fastest way there, rather than devising a deliberate, strategic, and purpose-driven plan with a meaningful outcome in mind.
Guilty: Your vision of success is based on eyeballs, not how you make people feel.
Try This:Once you have identified a goal, take time to consider why this goal matters--think bigger than just yourself and imagine how it impacts communities. Of course, you might still employ some fame tactics to get you where you need to be, but the result will be genuine and long-lasting if your motivation is real.
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4. Distraction addiction
We're addicted to our phones. We all know it. They're in our pockets, at our dinner tables, and even by our pillows. We're destroying our ability to focus for a material length of time on one thing without seeking a thrill or distraction. We're rude to our colleagues when we smile at the phone in our lap while they're presenting, and are rarely truly present when our most astute thinking is demanded, as we're thinking about other things. This is even worse when we have nothing to do. We can no longer sit in silence or enjoy a moment free of fleeting distractions. When was the last time you waited for a friend without playing on your phone? When did you just sit with your thoughts and really take in the world around you? Try it. It's scary how weird it feels.
Guilty:You feel a genuine loss when the Wi-Fi cuts out.
Try This: Delete social media apps from your phone and instead use the time you would have spent looking at your phone working toward one goal that matters to you. Use the BreakFree app to find out how much you use your phone. The horrific average should prompt you into action.
We have erratic splurges of attention to dish out. We skim-read our news while listening to a podcast and scrolling through our news feed. We have more conversations than ever before, yet most go barely beyond a sentence, a like, or a heart bump. And we're OK with this. Voyeurism is replacing conversation. At work, this means we're prioritizing generality over specialty.
Guilty: You're a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
Try This:Pick one thing that truly fascinates you and commit to going deeper on it.
We wear busyness in the same way we wear exhaustion; with pride. Busy has somehow become shorthand for success and achievement. When you're busy, you've got so much on your plate that you don't even need to explain the particulars. Busy says it all. And if you throw in the fact you only got a few hours of sleep the night before, you're even more illustrious. But busy is a lifeless trap--when you're a slave to busy, you miss the good stuff.
Guilty:You run from meeting to meeting, call to call, and rarely have time to think in solitude.
Try This: Banish the word from your vocabulary. Next, look at your calendar for the upcoming week and remove at least five meetings or calls that don't contribute toward your goals. Make a habit of saying no to meetings like these in the future. Go one step further by protecting your calendar and don't take any meetings before 10.30 a.m. Use this time to work independently on initiatives that matter most.
With an average of six connected devices, 400 channels, and seven hours spent online, we're so inundated with information that sometimes the only response is to throw your hands up in defeat and ride out a wave of paralysis. Science tells us that when we're confronted with more than three options, we lose our ability to make effective decisions. We have about 300 options for most things we want. Our ability to make decisions has dwindled to a point of incapacitation.
We read reviews, cross-reference ratings, and get recommendations. In this search to get more information, we've stopped listening to our intuition and practicing the art of swift decision making. We rely too much on data and categorical insight, rather than trusting our intuition enough to use the insight from our own observations in the wide world.
Guilty: You agonize over inconsequential decisions.
Try This:Practice making fast decisions, by listening to your gut and using insight of your own.