how to live a successful life in an ultrafast world

How quickly things change…

I still remember the days without smartphones and the Internet.

It was a simpler world, although admittedly  somewhat inconvenient.

Personally, I love all the modern conveniences we have as it gives me a platform to share ideas with on a global scale, but I admit it comes at a price. That price is speed.

If there’s one commonality we all share today, it’s how busy we’ve all become.

CEOs are busy. Employees are busy. Parents are busy. Students are busy. Even kids are busy.

Busyness epitomizes our world today whether we’re talking about the boardroom or the classroom.

In both cases, it’s due to the competitive nature of a global marketplace. No longer are we competing with people  just down the street or in the same city, today we must compete with people halfway across the world willing to work harder and for less money.

It has already changed the face of business, but we have just begun to scratch the surface as the Information Age is a mere 20 years old.

The good news for businesses is we can sell more of what we have, to a greater number of people, more easily. The drawback is competition which is constantly trying to sell a similar product or service for an even cheaper price which means entrepreneurs must stay one step ahead of the game by focusing on three areas:

  1. Creativity
  2. Marketing
  3. Time management

Each gives us an advantage over the competition, and mastering all three will put you in an elite group. It’s one of the reasons Apple and Google have risen to the top of the technology field in a very short period of time.

But today I’d like to take things down to a more basic level focusing on just how our ultrafast world has affected the family unit, and more importantly, our children.

The busier we get one trend I see is more parents trying to compensate by giving presents to our kids in the form of the latest gadgets (Playstation, WII, Gameboy). Since we can’t give them our time due to our busy schedule at least we can show them we love them by getting them things we love. Or at least this is what many parents think.

On some level, it makes sense. After all, kids love getting toys, so what’s the harm, right?

Well, quite a lot actually…and I say this as someone who played Mario 64, Far Cry and Balder’s Gate.

Basically, I loved video games, but a few years back when I decided to get serious about my future I quit and I’m glad I did.

Video games sure are a lot of fun, but they are no replacement for real life.

Kids should be outside riding their bikes, playing hide and seek or dodge ball at the park. These create lasting memories.

That’s not to say kids shouldn’t play video games, but they should be for more of a rainy day scenario.

The biggest problem I have is not with video games themselves, but with parents thinking that they are an adequate replacement for our time and attention.

Yesterday morning my son asked me to attend his swimming lesson at school which I agreed to. Now bear in mind we had a private swimming lesson yesterday, but it’s just not the same.

Today was about me watching him be with his friends and showing me how good he’d gotten.

While waiting his turn he often waved to me & tapped his friends on the shoulder to tell them I was there.

Me…just watching…brought  him so much joy.

And the truth is, it applies to all of us whether we’re a 5-year-old kid or a 39-year-old entrepreneur.

We all like to be appreciated, we like to know we’re valuable enough for people to spend time on; especially when it comes to people we care about.

My wife can’t attend his swimming lessons and it kills her. She’d love to be able to have the time I have, but right now it’s just not possible.

I know how much he’d love to have us both there watching him.

In college, I remember meeting lots of kids of wealthy families, rich kids if you like, always driving around in their Lexus 460 or BMW 7 series (today’s equivalent) but they were always on some sort of antidepressant?!

What did they have to be depressed about? Looking at their life, I just didn’t get it. But after talking to them, I realized in nearly every case it wasn’t about their physical life, but everything about their emotional life. Given every toy, gadget & gift imaginable, but not the one that mattered the most; their parents’ time.

Time is the most valuable gift we have because no matter how much money we have, we can’t get more of it. 24 hours a day. Rich or poor. It is the great equalizer.

However, where it differs is how we use it.

We all know our children are our future which is why we owe it to ourselves as much as we do them to give them the strongest base possible. That’s why we send them to school; to learn the basics. But even more important than learning is showing our children just how much we love them and we do that NOT through toys and gadgets, but through giving our time to them; by attending events, by playing with them, by listening to their stories.

Never make the mistake of thinking that people want some THING, when all they really want is our time and attention.

This applies as much to kids as it does to spouses and employees.

We’re people and we want to know we matter. It’s one of the main reasons people quit their jobs — because they felt they were unappreciated. I know that was true for me.

There is a old French proverb that goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Our world may be very different from the one I grew up in, but some things never change.

As human beings, our desire to be appreciated, to be cared for, to be listened to will never change. And no matter how busy we get, we’d be wise to remember this.

To me,it’s one of the success secrets of living in an ultrafast world.

Adrian Shepherd

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