Seated neatly between two elderly women, I was on a business trip headed to Las Vegas. I don’t drink or gamble and I’m very happily married so my trip to Vegas was strictly business with a good measure of anxiousness to hurry back home. These two elderly women, one in her 60’s and the other in her late 70’s were full of insight as we talked about their lives. They shared experiences about life, parenting, their marriages, and relationships. They shared inspiring stories of dreams realized and sadness over those unrealized. One of the women had recently lost her husband of 56 years to congestive heart failure and her grief was very near the surface. As a young Husband (by comparison) and a Father of three beautiful children, it was a thought-provoking conversation.

Wise Perspective

The conversation brought to the forefront of my mind what is most important in life. Perhaps because of this, I became keenly aware of what was happening only feet from us on the other side of the aisle. A man in a nice suit, probably headed to Vegas for business, sat in our peripheral view. Several times I caught him looking over at the three of us, maybe with curiosity or confusion, or maybe he had something to share. I’ll never know. But maybe he was looking for an escape, a longing to be included in the conversation. I think this is a possibility because, for almost the entire 3-hour flight, he couldn’t put his smartphone down. He was like a puppet with limbs unwillingly tied to a crossbar held by a malicious puppeteer. In an agitated persistence, he frantically went from his email to Facebook, to Instagram, to LinkedIn and back to his email. I’ve been there before, and it’s the reason I don’t have any social media apps on my phone. It was frustrating to watch and I know how frustrating it must have been for him. Occasionally, in a moment of resolve, he would turn off the screen and put down the phone, only to retrieve it literally seconds later. Every page looked almost, identical to the last time he scrolled it. In rare moments, with a shot of dopamine, a new picture, article or email would appear and give him his reward. But it was never long before he was on to the next app.

Blinded By The Lights

Maybe it was because I was headed to Vegas or because I know that, like Vegas, the biggest social media brands engineer their apps to suck dry the time, attention (and money) of everyone who is willing to engage. Either way, it was in this setting that something struck me. Every page this man went to, the same action refreshed the page and renewed the opportunity for a new hit of relief. A move made with the thumb that eerily resembles a well-known Vegas mechanism. Pull the Lever. And he did. Over and over again. Pull the lever, a new app. Pull the lever, the next app. Pull the lever. Again and again and again. Pull the lever. Pull the lever. Pull the lever. Sitting on a plane, headed to vegas, listening to stories of more than 100 years of life experience, the contrast of my life was sharpened. Our habits define us and determine the choices we make that ultimately determine the degree to which our potential is realized. I don’t know this man, or what his life is like. Maybe this was his first time in months that he had been on social media or maybe he was just bored or anxious about a big meeting. It doesn’t matter to me because the lesson was the same. Don’t. Pull. The lever. Greer Method Complete Coaching provides one on one coaching for executives and business owners. Through expert coaches, habit locking technology, and proven processes we help leaders create, manage, and sustain personal and professional performance. Jared J. Greer is the founder of Greer Method Complete Coaching. He is an executive coach, 6-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, husband, and father of four.

One Reply to “Game of Phones”

  1. What great food for thought ! Recently my husband and I have tried to implement phone free Monday in the evening, to allow us to engage and decompress. Only two weeks into we have failed.
    Makes me wonder why do we justify “pulling the lever” when it just pulls us away from important quality time with our family, our thoughts and our reality?

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