“Will Says” began as a syndicated humor column and cartoon commentary that has evolved to include Will’s observations on human nature and success in both photographic and blog-style forms. This section is a compilation of everything “Will Says”, as he takes to the road and discovers the Simple Sense that makes America great.
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CONCERTS AND SHOWS
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Motivational Cowboy Will Roberts talks about Internet Use Addiction (Video)
Motivational Cowboy Will Roberts talks about Internet Use Addiction (Video)
Okay, so after writing my blog last week on Internet Use Disorder, I started to think. An Internet addict is considered anyone who is online more than 38 hours a week. If you divide that by 7, then that is less than 5.5 hours each day. Specifically, if I spend 5 hours and 27 minutes a day online, then that could classify me as an Internet junkie.
When you consider all of the ways Apple, Blackberry, and Android have made it so we can plug in anywhere and anytime, and how often we utilize this 24/7 on-the-move access, then it becomes pretty clear that many, if not most of us, are within this definition of addiction.
We shop and talk online, get directions after driving in the wrong direction for entirely too long, confirm invitations to parties, share photos and get our news whether via a news source or a Youtube rant.
So I wanted to explore this a bit further. What I found out is that this is a pretty hotly debated thing. Many researchers just don’t believe it really exists. They feel that Internet abuse is just an expression of another psychological disorder, like depression.
People who support the existence of Internet Use Disorder believe that it is a reality and can look a lot like other addictive disorders, like gambling, shopping, drug use, and overeating. First, it must significantly interfere with normal daily life. The kind of thing where you miss important appointments because you cannot pull yourself away from the screen. Then, most abusive disorders tend to modify a person’s mood, dominate that person’s thoughts, and create withdrawal symptoms when not in use.
Now, I would not go so far to say I have any of that, but I do know that my gadgets can get in the way of my life if I don’t watch out. I can find myself following lame tweets and checking my email or Facebook page for no good reason and for way too long at one time. Plus, it is just so darn easy to check these things that if I am not careful, then I find myself doing this at restaurants, or while walking.
I cannot tell you how many times when having face-to-face conversations with people that I find out that they are tweeting or texting in their pockets. This may not be an Internet Use Addiction or Communication Addiction Disorder (another popular “diagnosis”), but it sure is a huge problem.
We just all seem to be having a hard time relating with one another. We are connecting over cyberspace and failing to relate to those people and experiences happening right in our own space We are always documenting with our phone camera and recorders for some future viewing or posting on a social network. But what are we documenting? We are recording stuff, and we are not even EXPERIENCING it.
So, I would say that we need to just check in with ourselves time and again. We may not be disordered, not exactly, but if we are not careful, we can get our priorities messed up and miss out on life. Time to keep it SIMPLE, to determine what is important and what is just plain clutter.
Another way that we bring clutter to our lives, pushing away or downgrading those things that we believe to be truly important, is to SAY too much. This is a subtle form of clutter, of course depending on the person talking, it could be down right overwhelming. One that we may not consider at first, but it is powerful in terms of how we define and portray ourselves to others.
Speech becomes clutter when it does not add value to what we feel to be important. It distracts from our priorities. I often see words become clutter in two different ways. The first is somewhat obvious, gossip.
When partaking in office politics and hearsay, people often become emotionally involved, casting “characters” as the villain or the victim. We create a story, we delve into the offenses, and craft various endings. In the end, this story-making may cause us to dislike or perpetuate negative consequences toward certain people when it is not in our benefit, and overall it becomes a huge waste of time since the truth is rarely found in the tale crafted in whispers and texts. With the addition of social media, stories spread faster and more people become involved, making this an even greater time and energy drain. If you need an example of this in its finest form, watch many of our politicians and the media in their never-ending loop of noise that truly add no value.
Speaking too much and too fast is another way to add clutter. By this I mean speaking without listening to the other person nor allowing a beat to pass before adding your two cents. As a professional speaker, you quickly learn to listen. Everyone becomes a potential client, and you want to make sure you understand that person’s needs before you force a message that may be inappropriate.
For the best example of this type clutter listen to talk radio. I’ll let you find the station in your area that best personifies this — I am sure you will have no problem finding one. I have often said we no longer have talk radio, its more like TALK AT YOU radio.
Understanding this form of clutter, I like to sit in the back of the room at Cirque du Soleil cast meetings, to take everything in before I respond. I have seen people react too quickly, particularly to change, without carefully considering a response. The result is that a person loses control. That person has the opportunity to proactively address change, but loses the chance when words get in the way of what is truly important. I force myself to take a beat. There is something to be said about the saying, “Sleep on it.” Time and good listening skills truly bring prospective and help to maintain priorities.
We have all heard that the “pen is mightier than the sword,” words are truly powerful. They have the ability to add value and importance to our lives, but they can also create serious clutter that distracts us from leading a truly successful and meaningful life.
When a cowboy hits the trail on a long trip the trail bag is packed as lightly as possible. Only the bare essentials are included. With this image in mind, I continually ask myself, “So what am I doing with all this stuff?”
If I want to simplify, I have to decide what is important and what is not.
Which led me to the next step Simple Step – MAKE CHOICES. I had to decide what is important, and what is clutter.
What is clutter?
- Clutter is HAVING too much stuff.
- Clutter is DOING too much stuff.
- Clutter is SAYING too much stuff.
How do you decide what is truly important to your goal? How do you determine what will direct you on a path that brings less stress but more productivity?
- WHAT IS IMPORTANT?
- WHAT DO I REALLY NEED TO BRING?
- WHAT DO I REALLY NEED TO SAY?
- WHAT DO I REALLY NEED TO DO?
Add to this technology that makes each of us available 24/7. We see people texting while dining, talking on the phone and messaging at the same time. If we are not doing and being busy, then we feel unproductive. Don’t get me started again on my apps!When you have something more important to do, what are all those 100’s of distracting, beeping apps? CLUTTER!
Funny thing is that many people still feel drained and overwhelmed at the end of the day. Those personal to-do lists remain undone. We have allowed clutter into our lives all day, every day.
When learning to rope, my mantra became – Don’t stop it, don’t drop it … I just focused on ONE thing … spinning my rope. I went from a weekend roper to a featured act in Cirque du Soleil. Simplicity is the key, less is more success SIMPLE SENSE!
I often ask people to create a list of what you HAVE, DO, and SAY around a given trouble area, like a desk or work scenario or just. When you are looking at that list, ask yourself those same questions:
- IS IT IMPORTANT?
- DO I REALLY NEED TO HAVE IT?
- DO I REALLY NEED TO SAY IT?
- DO I REALLY NEED TO DO IT?
If the answer is NO, then – it is clutter.
When we think of clutter, we tend to think of things. Our mind wanders to the stacks of boxes in the garage, messy desk drawers, or an unorganized closet. Possessions can definitely bring clutter to our lives, but our actions can also be a source of clutter. Our habits and behavioral responses can distract from what is important leading us to not be the successful, purposeful person we would like to be.
Habits can create disorder and detract from what is truly important. For example grabbing a daily frappo-whipped carmel half-calf coffee drink before heading to the office may actually be a time drainer and cause a sugary caloric overload that leads you crashing mid-day. Considering our actions and daily routines is the first part, but then we need to decide if these habits are important and truly necessary. What do our habits contribute? How much time do they take? Do they impact us in negative or positive ways, possibly even later in the day?
Behavioral responses are another way that actions pop up throughout the day. Typically, emotions drive these responses. I found that boredom and stress at work were the key emotions to which I developed coping mechanisms. Feeling bored? Then you may find that you keep clicking GET MAIL or filling up your water bottle at the cooler. Feeling stressed? Your response may be to go online to check in with friends on Facebook or text a “howdy” to a family member on your phone. Social media, available 24/7 and everywhere, offers a quick escape and way to cope with emotional overload. These types of behavioral responses are just clutter. Again, we must ask are our responses important and necessary? Do they allow me to be successful, feel less stressed, and achieve a high level of productivity?
Actions that are simply clutter become a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the very stress and boredom that drove our behavioral responses, then create more stress and feelings of detachment from our work and true potential. This clutter wastes the time and energy that should be used toward working on what WE DECIDE is important.
We tend to gather, collect, and hoard the latest and greatest shiny objects with the result that the honeymoon wains, and we forget why we bought it in the first place, we lose the motivation to productively apply it, or we just clear a space on the shelf or in a drawer for it. To simplify what I am saying, we stand in line to get the newest gadgets and then something newer catches our eye and we move in that direction. Its not really our fault, we are marketed to react. In the world of technology, if a product does not have an update in a few weeks or less, we have moved on, it loses our attention and interest. Technology and gadgets have become like drugs, we just have to have it, we have to own it.
And that is just things, we also tend to collect ACTIONS in the form of habits and behaviors. We may hit that GET MAIL button every ten minutes out of boredom, just like others may eat when sad. We adopt coping behaviors to deal with stress, boredom, emptiness, and many of these behaviors just add clutter to our lives, they are not productive whatsoever, but yet we do it anyway.
Additionally, we SAY things that add clutter to our lives. We respond too quickly without gathering enough information from our clients to appropriately address their needs, or we engage in company gossip wasting our time and alienating ourselves from others.
The next step is to Inventory what we have, what we do, and what we say.
It is critical not to pass judgement too quickly. Instead, we need to assess our actions, words and possessions. Before we know what is important and what is not, we have to know what we have, what we do, and what we say.
That means I had to look at what I was doing, saying, and piling. I started with my technology. I created the Simple Sense formula in response to my gadgets: I had too many, used them inappropriately, and I was not conveying the message that I needed to convey to others.
Inventorying is context-based. It needs to be applied to a particular area or situation, say technology, or your desk, or your lunch hour. This is an important consideration because if you tackle too much at once, then you will find the overall task daunting. If you tackle one area or situation at a time, then you will be truly following Less is More Success principles and will gain the added advantage of numerous simplification victories on the road to overall successfulness and mastery.
When inventorying, start by taking out a piece of paper and making three columns. One column is for “THINGS I DID.” The other is “THINGS I HAVE.” The final column is “THINGS I SAY.” Write down anything you can think of that relates to the area or situation of immediate concern. For some of you it may take more than one piece of paper. Write neatly – you want to read your own writing later when you look back at it.
“In this modern day and age America`s newest slogan is: Mom, apple pie and high-speed Internet. They say you can live two weeks without food, a day or so without water but take someone`s smart phone away, and that person won`t last 5 minutes.”
I have been signing off each email with this saying for years. However, my observation was confirmed when I heard this week that the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the book used by psychiatrists and psychologists to diagnose psychological disorders, will add “Internet use disorder” to the appendix of the upcoming revision. Wow! This is a book my wife is familiar with because she has a masters degree in counseling, and one she uses to win arguments with me.
According to an article in The Week magazine, “Brain scans of Internet addicts — defined as anyone online more than 38 hours a week — resemble those of cocaine addicts and alcoholics. Symptoms of Internet addiction can range from depression to acute psychosis.”
We are no longer USERS of technology, but rather being USED by it. Demands by friends, co-workers, bosses, and family bombard us 24/7 and everyone expects an answer yesterday. Our culture tells us that we must do MORE MORE MORE in order to find success and be productive.
Here is a secret MORE MORE MORE does not bring success and productivity, just a lack of fulfillment and stress.
I remember one day going to a meeting at the show I am doing here on the Las Vegas Strip. The show has a cast of about 80. The first thing they told us was take your phones out, turn them off, and place them aside for this important meeting. After we did this they proceeded with the meeting. Now it’s just my nature to sit somewhere that I can see everyone in the crowd, just to see what people think and do. Well I will tell you, I got an eyeful. Almost everyone started moving and shifting around, reaching for their pockets, their phones. They were like fish out of water, or addicts without their fix. I even saw people sweating and rocking in their seats. I am convinced that if Simple Sense does not help the world be a better place to live, I can start a group called Technology Addicts Organization or TAO of Social Media!
The answer is Simple Sense.
Simple Sense is something that we are missing in our work and everyday lives. In our success-oriented world, it is not technology that brings success. It is using technology wisely, focusing on what is important and making Simple Sense that brings success.
So I ask you:
Do you want to enjoy life more?
At the end of each day, do you want to feel like you have accomplished everything you needed to do?
Do you want to get rid of all the stress in life?
YOU CAN! It is simple with SIMPLE SENSE.
It is important to take the first step and decide to make a change. To commit to simplifying our technology. Then we need to identify the clutter. We need to inventory and then assign value to the technologies we use and HOW we use them. Are we guilty of checking email constantly out of boredom? Can we no longer sit at a restaurant waiting for our companion to return from the bathroom without sending a text? Survey your behavior, decide if it is truly providing value to what you are doing in the moment. If not, then it is clutter and it is time to eliminate it.
CLUTTER: Having too much
A key component of Simple Sense is identifying and eliminating the CLUTTER that builds up around us. Clutter is quite plainly too much stuff. It is too much going on. It is too much said. All this stuff may be fun, but it gets in the way of what is important at the time and our overall goals and aspirations.
Clutter gives the gifts of stress and defeat. By eliminating it, you won’t feel the stress of not finishing what you want to do. You won’t feel the congested pressure of having too much around you.
This week I was reminded that CLUTTER is HAVING TOO MUCH STUFF when I needed to fix a ceiling storage rack that fell in my garage. Not only did clutter cause the initial problem (too much stuff weighing down on the rack), but then it caused me to not readily be able to fix it (Where did I put my drill again?).
The clutter of everyday life has finally caught up with me, or I say crashed down on me. All this time I’ve been talking to folks about how to simplify your life, and how to get rid of the clutter (what we have, what we do and what we say that is not important), and I forgot about my own garage.
Now I know that a messy garage is not too surprising to you guys out there. Some guys have a purpose for their garage, like car restoration, wood making, or just as a place to kick back. Mainly because wives won’t allow those odd things you’ve been saving in the house, you know, the items that even back when you got them they were out-dated or just plain and simply ugly.
Anyhow, there is another use for the garage. Many people, myself included, use the garage to store things, or should I say PILE things. So after the shelves came ripping out of the ceiling, I figure that the best time to tackle or be tackled by my garage is now.
Fortunately, amongst the ensuing mess and frustration I saw an opportunity. I can take the Simple Sense principles of Less is More Success that I have applied to technology and my work, and instead use it to fix the black hole of decades past that is my garage.
SIMPLE SENSE STEP 1: START
Before undertaking any program or plan of action you have to START. When it came to simplifying my life I had to actually tell myself that I was going to START TO SIMPLIFY. And, I had to SAY IT. I had to say, “I am going to simplify my life.” I could write it down, I could say in my mind, however, both of those I could lose. The solution, say it out loud, so you are both saying and hearing it being said.
Why out loud? I am making a commitment. I am making a verbal promise to myself, bringing the power of voice to potential action.
I promised myself that I am going to find a way to reduce my stress, be more productive, be more successful, and enjoy life.
I promised myself that I was going to find time to do everything I really needed to do AND find time to enjoy my lovely wife and amazing, super-intelligent, spectacular, beautiful little daughter.
This is the first step to Simple Sense, to actually START. Making a commitment may seem easy, but too often we say we are going to do something, but put it off. We have just too many items on our to-do list today, we are just too tired, or we throw some other roadblock in the way to prevent ourselves from making that verbal promise.
The thing is that you don’t just commit to start one-time and that is good for every situation where Simple Sense can be applied. Nope, it just doesn’t work that way. I really feel that it is context specific. We need to make a commitment to one area of our lives at a time, tackle it piece-by-piece. This makes it more manageable, and we get to experience the benefits faster. Small successes line the path to monumental accomplishments.
Plus, this approach falls in line with my belief in single-tasking, and not multi-tasking. We need to do one thing at a time, do it really well, and then we are ready to move on to the next accomplishment on our list.
For me, I started to simplify my gadgets and my use of technology. I knew I was being USED BY my technology and no longer a USER. You know that technology is controlling you when it invades every aspect of your life and every relationship. Texting while at dinner with my family and seeing another family at a table across from us all using some iPhone or iPad was my wake up call. “Walk away from the device, Sir!” And, I did. But first, I had to say, “I am going to simplify my technology.”
Here’s a quiz: raise your hand if you have more than 5 apps on your phone. Now raise your hand if you have more than 10 apps, 20 apps and that’s counting the ones you have, took off your phone, but still live on your iTunes. Top that off with the fact that I had 3 apps for every task. 3 calendar programs, 3 map apps, 3 versions of Texas hold’em. Each promises that it is better the other. Each telling me that they can help me succeed. None of which I used because I couldn’t find them on my phone.
Our world doesn’t always make this easy, but taking the first step, making a verbal promise, raises your awareness and directs you to a path of success, less stress, and greater fulfillment.