By Chris Chittenden
"It is possible to own too much. A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure."
… Gene Brown
Consider this simple fact. Last month, there were over 900,000 apps available in Apple's App Store. Most of them are free or so cheap as to make putting one of on your iPhone or iPad seem like an easy choice. So much so, that in May 2013 the fifty billionth app was downloaded. That is about seven apps for every person on the planet! And that is only apps downloaded by the Apple technology users of the world.
We live in an age where it seems that everything is at our fingertips, or if it isn't, then it seems it should be. Through our smart phones and tablets, we have a single conduit to browse the internet, play a game, text a friend, read a book, listen to music and the list goes on and on and on and on. This proliferation of accessibility has led many people into an age of distraction. Watch almost anyone using a smart phone and they are swapping between apps at a rapid rate. I better check Facebook, there is an e-mail, I wonder what the weather is like. I know for myself that I will start reading a book and a few minutes later my mind is wandering to what else I could access. There are just so many things I could do that it is easy to get distracted. Maybe you are not like me, but I suspect many of you are.
We also live in an age where many of us have been told that anything is possible. The self-development industry has certainly played some part in this including the coaching industry. I recently had a coffee with a young woman who was interested in doing our coach training program. I asked why she was drawn to the ontological approach. She replied that she had explored quite a number of options, which she described as "happy, happy, clappy, clappy" approaches to coaching. She found the excessive positiveness of the people she had encountered as disingenuous and was looking for a more grounded approach. Now I certainly don't want to say that something you seek in life is impossible to achieve, however to get there may require considerable luck and hard work. Although many things are possible, many of those are highly unlikely to come into being. Not everyone can become a music or movie superstar despite it being the dream of many.
The "happy, happy, clappy, clappy" approach also speaks to the idea that life should always be fun. Many people have become obsessed with the pursuit of happiness as a goal. There is a wonderful article recently in the Herald-Sun where Dr. Russ Harris debunks the happiness myth and speaks to the value of the full range of our emotional life.
So what does all this mean? There are many people in the world today who are constantly seeking a wonderful life based on the possibilities they believe are there for them, but who are not prepared to stay focused on a particular goal once the effort involved is no longer fun. There are so many other distractions that might not be painful that it is easy to choose one of those. It is easy to become addicted to those possibilities and avoid the pain. Added to that, many people want to transform themselves painlessly. They want a healthy body without eating a healthy diet and exercising. They want personal growth without having to deal with the challenges that impede that growth.
At the end of the day, sustainable transformation takes time, discomfort and effort. It is not achieved by popping a pill and rarely achieved by going through a program that lasts a week or even a month. If you want personal transformation then you must be prepared to embrace discomfort and the full range of emotions and stay the course. Believe me the effort is worth it. All you have to do is avoid the distractions!
© 2013 Chris Chittenden