Face-to-Face Networking and Social Media - Deepstash

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The Danger of Continuous Partial Attention

Face-to-Face Networking and Social Media

When attending a function of any type, it is increasingly common to find people paying attention to their mobile devices instead of effectively connecting with others.

While our desire to connect and be connected is a strength, we can lose the connection with the person in front of us when we simultaneously pay attention to our phone.

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Pablo Picasso

"Others have seen what is and asked why? I have seen what could be and asked why not?"

Pablo Picasso
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."

Inner, other and outer focus
Inner, other and outer focus

We need three kinds of focus:

  • Inner focus guides our values and decisions.
  • Other focus smooths our...
Continual partial attention

We increasingly find it difficult to focus on the hear and now without checking our phones. We seem to go through life in a state of "continual partial attention." We're there but not aware of where we put our attention.

While modern technology has its advantages, our attention span is suffering. Teachers are noticing that current students find it hard to read books that previous students used to enjoy. Teachers think that students' ability to read has been compromised by short text messages and video games.

Two main varieties of distractions
  • Sensory: We can more easily tune out from sensory distractions. For example, the feel of your tongue against your upper palate is an incoming stimuli your brain weeds out.
  • Emotional distraction is more difficult to tune out. When you overhear someone mention your name, it's almost impossible to ignore.

Those who focus best are relatively immune to emotional disturbance.

Future career logic
Future career logic

The most important career logic of the past is becoming counterproductive. Many of us have been told the key to success was developing a specialization that allowed us to climb the professional lad...

The future belongs to generalists

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Breadth is gaining favor. To make it in today's world, it's essential to be agile and flexible.

It is not to say that deep expertise is useless. It is just that our world is changing so fast that those with more tools in their possession will better navigate the uncertainty.

Being a generalist

To be a generalist, zoom out and pay more attention to the context in which you're making decisions.

  • Think bigger and wider than you usually would. Read the whole paper, not just the part that pertains to your industry. Study the dynamics affecting your sector. If you are a finance professional, read a book on marketing.
  • Take the time to consider how seemingly unrelated developments are connected and may impact each other.

Because generalists have a broader set of tools to draw from, they can dynamically adjust their course.