Happy 2020: A Return to More Humanity

The greatest challenge of our time is automation, and by 2030 we’ll be experiencing its full effects on our economy and society.So writes Andrew Yang, serial entrepreneur and a presidential candidate, in an article I find in the Sunday Review Section of The New York Times titled “The Year 2030” (NY Times, 12/29/19). We need to reevaluate the way we view work, put people over profits and create an economy that works for us instead of the other way around.

Yes, yes, yes.

There are models and frameworks out there about how to do just that. There are systems that concretely support a more “humans first” way of conducting business. And then there are the individual choices you and I make, every single day, about how we show up.

Those choices are a fine place to start. In case of doubt, begin with you.

I am reminded of another year-end article I read 3 years ago, also in the New York Times. Titled “Quiet Places” (NY Times Magazine, 12/25/16), it featured seven pictures taken by photographer Mitch Epstein. Photos of the private spaces of folks like Janet Reno. Gene Wilder. The sculptor Marisol. Garry Shandling. All taken right after these folks had passed during the year.No, I will not be maudlin’ here. Those gorgeous photos reminded me of a simple humanity and success truth. In a time of incessant distraction, showing up more human is not possible if we don’t have our quiet places. Don’t know where they are. As automation continues to assail us, we will not prevail if we don’t remember our Places of Contemplation. Creativity. Refuge. Rejuvenation.Go and make 2020 a brilliant year. A more human one. And ask yourself, so where are MY quiet places? Not the ones you go to on vacation or during the holidays. No, the ones you go to every day. The ones that fuel your daily impact in the world.

Some places to consider:

  • The Closed Door: When we close the door, for a moment, we stop engaging with the onslaught of external stimulation. If your work space doesn’t come with a door, find a place where you CAN close the door. A bathroom stall will do. Close the door, for a moment. Sit. Disengage.
  • The Shut Eye: When your mind is racing, close your eyes for a few seconds. Yes, a few seconds will do the trick. So simple. When we close our eyes we return to the body. No effort required, it happens by itself. Take your mental chatter break. From the mind, into the body.
  • The Tech Vacation: Choose to not check your emails, your Facebook account, your twitter responses, your Instagram. Choose to not do it for a brief amount of time. 15 minutes, half an hour perhaps. You decide. Declare your mini-tech-vacation. The world will live, and you will regain quiet focus.
  • The Source Connection: Breath is the source. I know you know. I know too. And we forget, don’t we? Let us not. As you step into high-execution mode, stop for a minute or two and just breathe. Breathe deeply. Into your abdomen and groin. Deep. Exhale extravagantly. A highly oxygenated you always executes better. Do this several times during the day. Consider them your source-connection-STOPs.
  • The Sacred Space: Define what that is for you. If you are a spiritual or religious person, this space might be embodied by an image of your spiritual leader or a meaningful artifact. If you have heroes who inspire you, an image of your hero or something they wrote. A picture of your family. A representation of the deeper purpose for why you do what you do. Chances are, you have the sacred spaces present somewhere in your work space. And you ignore them, every day. Don’t. Stop. Gaze into your sacred space, for a second or two. That’s all it takes.
  • Funny how things work out. I was slated to ring in the New Year in Bangkok, on the roof top of the Grand Hyatt as fireworks fill the city sky. A stubborn bronchitis banished me to days on my couch at home instead, reading, stopping, reflecting. Yes, I was sent to my quiet place.

    Grateful for that.

    Follow more of your dreams in 2020. Sprinkle your days with moments when you stop engaging. With people. With technology. With your action list.Sink into the quiet. Your spring will be brighter, your reach deeper, the joy more palpable.Stay human. Spring well.