Almost nothing is completely useful or useless in and of itself. Whether you are talking about standard procedures, or new technology, the distinction and ultimately your enlightened leadership is in discerning whether your choices, tools, or behaviors are your servant or your master—your discipline or your addiction.
An easy example to give you a frame of reference, is the person who is neat and organized. The ability to organize your life and your work space is a great discipline, until it becomes an addiction. When you cannot even function unless every paper is put away, or every closet spic and span, this potentially useful discipline is now has an addictive quality and you’ve lost the benefit. It’s no fun and there’s no choice. The urge for order has become the master instead of the servant.
Here are three other examples. I invite you to list your own at the end of the blog.
As a servant, technology gives you new choices and makes you more efficient. For example rather than having to physically go to a library to pick up a book for research, you can log on to a research library, or go to Amazon and with one click of a button, purchase the book and have it download on your Kindle or i pad.
Technology becomes you master when you can’t get anything done because it drives you crazy if you don’t check email every five minutes, or if you are stuck on level 29 with Candy Crush and you can’t focus until you get your fix and break through to level 30.
As a servant, imagination opens the field of possibility. After all, as Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited and imagination is limitless.” Someone had to first imagine the cell phone, the airplane, and the microwave before it could be invented.
Imagination becomes an addictive master when you live only in the what-if’s and your feet are not touching planet earth. I know people who are so imaginative and so passionate they can’t discern between fact, fiction, and fantasy. There passion and fun, but no discipline. Imagination is a lovely servant and a terrible master.
A good process frees up time, and frees up working memory. Good process saves you from reinventing the wheel, and from repeating a mistake.
When there’s no room for critical thinking, distinctions, or inquiry, process can become more like an addiction than a discipline and can become an ends instead of a means to an end. For example, I read about a bank not allowing anyone inside their doors during a tornado. Really?
When there is no room for discernment, process can easily become a master instead of a servant.
Points to Ponder:
Test out your behaviors, your thinking and the tools you use in the work place and ask yourself if they are working for you or against you.
When it comes to your own life, what is your best servant and worst master?
In what area do you need to intersect passion with discipline and fun to create a balance?