The secret to finding your partner, a new career, or a new best friend lies beyond the screen in pivotal transition moments. “Find time to casually explore, follow our whims, or think big, this capacity is a major competitive advantage in the era of constant connectivity” says Scott Belsky. Value the power of serendipity and we become aware of our true selves. “When you tune in to the moment, you begin to recognize the world around you and the true potential of your own mind” Scott adds. The daily opportunities to explore, learn, think, imagine, create, and flirt are in these transitions. Let’s explore!
Imagine you’re in line at Target. Now before reading this, think back on all those times you’ve been in line and saw 9 out of 10 people on their smartphones. Wonder for a second, these transitional times in our day-to-day used to be where chance encounters would happen. Instead of POF, OkCupid, or Tinder; we (millennials and older) remember a time when standing in line behind a cute gal at Target was an opportunity… that would turn into a cute story 50 years later to tell your grandkids about how “we met.” For example, eight years ago I was shopping in a Bel Air grocery store. I just finished picking up fruit and vegetables in the produce section. As I was walking towards the checkout stand, I just so happened to past the floral department. This could’ve easily been a moment today where I’d be scrolling through my newsfeed or “texting” while steering a shopping cart. But this moment, as our eyes locked, turned into a year long relationship.
In the Starbucks line, at my Chicago hotel a few months ago, I had another chance encounter. How many times have we been on our devices waiting in line at Starbucks? Be honest!? I have! However, this time I started a conversation with an older lady in front of me. Our conversation carried over to the “bar” (the beverage pick up area). I quickly learned that she spearheaded the entire United Kingdom division of what I was at the hotel for. Regardless, she was a big deal and has been a great partner over the last few weeks. These chance encounters in these transition times of the here and now are critical parts that we must now pencil in and be vigilant for.
What’s the importance of unplugging during daily transitions from one activity to the next? Besides the fact that you could find the love of your life… it serves as a COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE! As I sit here in Starbucks writing this, I’ve conducted my own secret agent poll. I’ve found that roughly 70% (if not higher, my vision may have been skewed) of participants in line have had their heads down in their phone. By unplugging in these transitional moments, you and I have a competitive advantage over the masses to meet new people, wonder, think, imagine, explore, heaven forbid flirt! But don’t take my sketchy poll for face value… I did a little digging and found some supplemental research on “How often we un-plug” and it’s effects (below).
The truth is many of us (myself included) often times are insecure, looking for reassurance, or desiring an external form of validation in our lives. I see it time and time again when I walk on a high school campus for work. How many times do we use a smartphone as a crutch? How many times do we act like we’re engulfed in our devices to avoid a stranger. Or how many times are we walking with our devices for a fear of being awkward? How many times because we’re uncomfortable in a situation? I can think of countless times when I was out with friends at a dance club and my buddies went to the bathroom. As I was standing there all alone, I pulled out my “friend” and instantly became safe.
The idea here is to be present in the present. Be open to serendipity. Allow time for ourselves to think, explore, learn, create, imagine, wonder, and flirt. The simplest reason why is because not everyone will do it! And as many use these transitional times to scroll newsfeed, like the next Pokemon “it thing,” or swipe right… those of us that are disciplined to value the present will have the secret towards gaining a competitive advantage in a constantly connected world.
Additional Effects from Un-Plugging Graphic