I found myself in full-on rant mode when I ready by a post by Alison Jones. After writing a comment as long as her blog post, I told myself “step away from the submit button“.
Your obligation as the audience
In turn, her post was prompted by her interview with Seth Godin in which he discussed the “obligation of the audience” to fully focus, fully attend, fully listen, and fully participate.
When the audience (whether in a theatre, a workshop, an online class, reading a book, a blog post, listening to a podcast) fulfils their obligations, this works for both the audience members AND the author. (Author in this sense meaning the person who is ‘performing’ whether that’s acting, facilitating, writing or interviewing).
Nodding in agreement?
By now, 3 paragraphs in and you’re all nodding your heads in agreement. Yes of course we need to be fully present. We need to listen properly. We need to concentrate. As the audience, we owe it to the author. That’s our obligation.
But we don’t, do we? How many times do you go to a conference and you get stuck into the event Twitter chat without properly listening to the expert speakers up on stage. How often do you register for an online class and you’re browsing Facebook at the same time? Or you’re checking email while you’re on a conference call?
Just like Alison “Too often I do all those things without fully stepping up to the role.”
Because here’s the thing. It is impossible to multi-task and get brilliant results. You can multi-task brilliantly and get nothing done. Or you can multi-task horribly and get everything done. It’s your choice.
What makes you think you can multi-task brilliantly?
You might think you can multi-task. But you can’t. Even computers can’t. It might look like a computer is multi-tasking but it’s not. A computer processes tasks and data incredibly fast so that it looks like it’s multi-tasking. But it’s not actually multi-tasking. So if a computer can’t multi-task brilliantly, what makes you think you can?
Promise me one thing
The next time that you attend a conference or sign up to an online class or listen to a podcast or read a book, promise me one thing. Promise me that you will not try to multi-task brilliantly and get nothing done.
Promise me instead that you will step up to the obligation of the audience; that you will listen well; that you will concentrate; that you will be fully present.
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