Hand Me an Axe
Albert Einstein said, "Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."
I hope you’ll take a minute to digest Einstein’s quote and really think about what he’s saying. If you are missing
the deeper meaning of what he was saying you’re spending too much time with your technology!
Seriously, technology plays a big role in killing many good things, like genuine conversations, human
interactions and creativity. Since I specialize in creativity and communications, it’s natural that I would find
technology to be both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing because correcting a mistake in a document is as simple as deleting and retyping. You don’t have
to worry about hitting the right key when you’re in the creative flow. But it’s a curse too, like when I want to
quickly resolve a problem.
A human being can solve complex, multi-level requests in seconds where a computer has to go through a logic
tree process with the human being doing most of the work (answering a series of questions). The computer can
only handle one request at a time (linear logic); solving each request in isolation from the other requests. It
simply takes more time. An axe would be handy at those times, wouldn’t it?
Consider how easily we make a simple decision like what to eat for breakfast. To program a computer to do this
you have to constantly update the database so the computer knows what is in the refrigerator and the pantry at
all times, or severely limit your food choices.
The computer has to know how much is in each package and whether it’s reached its expiration date or not. It
can’t account for whether someone swiped the last cookie and forgot to record it. It has to be programmed to
know what foods can be combined to make a set of pre-defined breakfast choices (i.e., bacon and eggs, waffles
and sausage, milk and cereal, etc.)
The user (getting hungrier by the minute) has to tell the computer what he or she wants for breakfast. The
computer yeas or nays it based on the available data. The computer generates some options. Eventually, the
user will eat the same thing every day because it’s a pain to ask the computer for more choices. The ultimate
logic tree nightmare!
When you activate a human brain, you instantly get a highly developed logical super computer that can assess
the contents of the fridge in milliseconds. And the brain’s innate creativity allows you to make breakfast with last
night’s leftover burrito and a stick of butter if you want. And without even thinking much about it, your brain
creates a grocery list of items you need and determines if you have enough money to buy them. A computer
cannot give you complete creative freedom to eat whatever you please!
So take an axe to your phone tree and any other computerized function a human can handle faster or better (or
more humanely). Humans are always better at multi-level tasks, make better decisions in areas where there is
unpredictability, and can innovate using fewer parameters.
The Prince and the Pea
True confession time. I only vacuum under the dog bed every few months. I do this for a good reason. His bed is
fairly large, square, heavy and difficult to manipulate, and has no handles to lift with so it ranks fairly low on my
move-it-to-vacuum scale. Plus, I’ve noticed it doesn’t get that dirty under there because it sits snuggly on the
rug underneath. Mostly it gets dirty and hairy around the edges of the bed so I vacuum the edges of the bed
every time I vacuum. When I recently moved it for its quarterly cleaning, I found a hard rubber ball right in the
middle of the sleeping area. My poor dog had been sleeping with a hard ball right in the middle of his bed for
Unlike many people, my dog never complained about the discomfort. He figured a way to work around the
impediment in his sleeping area by using the edges of the bed. Many times people allow a hard ball of
discomfort to ruin everything they want to do, instead of figuring out a way to work around it. I can’t count the
times someone I’m coaching has told me they can’t start their own business because they don’t have enough
education, the latest technology, enough money to open their store or office, or simply don’t want to change
their comfortable existence from steady-paycheck employee to risk-taking entrepreneur. Life is full of hard
obstacles that often sit right in the best spot in our lives and won’t go away unless we do something about it.
Thousands of people start businesses every year with nothing but their desire for something more. Having
things “right” or “perfect” isn’t a very good excuse for not doing something right now. Whether we admit it or not,
most of us aren’t happy doing a job someone else has defined for us. It will always fall short of what we want for
We take these other-defined roles because we don’t know there’s another option. When we are young, we were
told that we have to pick the career we will do the rest of our lives. No one tells us that we can try things out and
decide later what fits us best. This mentality of limited choice is why so many organizations don’t function as well
as they could. Organizations are full of people in leadership positions who are there because they picked the
wrong career but stayed longer than anyone else did.
You’ll know these people by the way they crush the spirit of everyone around them, have an obsession with
following the known path, and will steer away from new ideas and challenges. They are in every type of
organization you can imagine, even non-profits, charities, humanitarian organizations and churches. A pastor
who is “just doing a job” passes his or her lack of passion on to their congregation, causing them to become
hardened to the very people they are there to serve. The pastor literally teaches the church members to settle
for the edges instead of taking the sweet spot in the middle that God has for them.
Are you going to settle for the edges and complain about the middle being taken up by a seemingly immovable
uncomfortable problem, or are you going to do the heavy lifting and eliminate the hard spot in your life?
You Inspire Me
I recently worked on a project with a person who is the polar opposite of everything I am. I don’t think I’ve ever
run into somebody who holds the opposing view on every single thing I believe, whether it was life philosophy,
worldview, family, relationships, politics, health or God. I didn’t think it was possible. I usually have some
common ground with people I meet. But with this person, there was no commonality, down to the smallest detail.
What are the odds of that happening?
Jay (not his real name) is prone to melancholy, which is probably the hardest thing for me to deal with. The
project we were collaborating on had the potential to easily bring him a six-figure return, to position his brand as
the number one force in his market, and open opportunities for him to expand his brand for even more reach
and unlimited income potential. Except he kept saying over and over, “I’ll be happy if I can make at $20,000.”
His own words betrayed what was going on inside. I explained (repeatedly) how what he spoke set him up to
receive what he could expect to see happen. I spoke life and positive things to him until his mood lifted and we
were able to do some strategizing for his brand. He would leave our meetings fired up to do whatever it took to
succeed. But within 2 weeks he was back to embracing failure and low performance.
Soon he was calling me and telling me that he likes talking to me because I “inspire him.” And so it goes, week
after week. I don’t want to inspire him. I want him to inspire himself. I want him to want more for himself. I don’t
want him to be interested in his product because I see it’s future potential. I want him to see it. I want him to
embrace it and live with it.
If you need an outside source for your inspiration, it will fade when things get tough. To expect another person
to carry your emotions for you says you aren’t totally in on what your doing. The same goes for every thing else
in life – relationships, love, family, career, creative and artistic endeavors. You cannot thrive if staying in a
positive place requires an outside source. By the way, it is okay to occasionally get discouraged but don’t stay
If you don't know Jesus, please meet him. (I Want to Meet Jesus)
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