Multitasking and the Decline of Brilliance

Posted on: March 25th, 2007 by Lance - 4 Comments | Permalink

I have argued extensively in my book ONE: The Art and Practice of Conscious Leadership that multitasking is inefficient, and sends a signal of disrespect to others when we multitask in their presence.

Multitasking squeezes the “slow time” out of our lives – the time we all need to reflect, regenerate, rest and heal. It causes us to overfocus on the small and the mundane and thus prevents us from dreaming, visioning and expansive thinking. Nothing great can ever be achieved while multitasking. In multitasking, we sacrifice intimacy, replacing it with technology, even while we labor under the illusion that we are communicating with each other. The brain is wired in such a way that we simply cannot do two things well at the same time. (This article from the New York Times amplifies these thoughts with strong empirical evidence). Conducting a symphony while using a Blackberry will result in doing both poorly. Nothing worthwhile can be done well while simultaneously conducting another task. Thus, whenever we mutitask, we are choosing to be mediocre.

Inspiration comes from many things, and one of them is mastery. But because multitasking breeds mediocrity – the opposite of mastery – it leads to a loss of inspiration.

Multitasking is an effective practice for those wishing to remain mundane, uninspiring and with an empty e-mail in-basket. But being an inspiring leader requires one’s full attention.

  1. Susan Martin says:

    Not only for those wanting to remain mundane, but those wishing to zone out on what’s happening, not good for leadership, focus or relationships!

  2. Nancy Mindes says:

    Love this. Just love it.
    For years I have asked my clients to give up multi-tasking as it will change their lives.
    Focusing on one thing at a time and doing it superbly. And those who take this on by doing more by doing less are overjoyed. The quality of what they accomplish and the results they report is nothing short of incredible.

    One thing I encourage my clients to do is to turn off all of their technological devices when we meet in person.
    For one full hour to be completely present to the work we do together.
    It is can be a true challenge. However the lesson is to reconnect one self with others on a much deepere level and to connect with ourselves as well.

  3. […] Multitasking robs us of the precious moments of our lives because we’re not present in the moment when we’re doing more than one thing at a time. No one ever thinks to themselves, “Man, I bet I would enjoy love-making more if I could watch my favorite TV show at the same time,” or “It would be much more rewarding to pay bills while eating dinner with my kids.” The reason we don’t say those things is because we know that multitasking keeps us from truly experiencing the moment we’re in. . .and that it prevents us from truly connecting with those sharing the moments with us. “Conducting a symphony while using a Blackberry will result in doing both poorly. Nothing worthwhile can be done well while simultaneously conducting another task. Thus, whenever we multitask, we are choosing to be mediocre.” ~ Lance Secretan, Multitasking and the Decline of Brilliance […]

  4. […] Multitasking robs us of the precious moments of our lives because we’re not present in the moment when we’re doing more than one thing at a time. No one ever thinks to themselves, “Man, I bet I would enjoy love-making more if I could watch my favorite TV show at the same time,” or “It would be much more rewarding to pay bills while eating dinner with my kids.” The reason we don’t say those things is because we know that multitasking keeps us from truly experiencing the moment we’re in. . .and that it prevents us from truly connecting with those sharing the moments with us. “Conducting a symphony while using a Blackberry will result in doing both poorly. Nothing worthwhile can be done well while simultaneously conducting another task. Thus, whenever we multitask, we are choosing to be mediocre.” ~ Lance Secretan, Multitasking and the Decline of Brilliance […]

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