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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 463

Estimated reading time:  3:00 minutes


Greetings from YVR, where I am safely ensconced before a flight to a gig. The snow is starting to fly in parts of Western Canada, and the business travellers have all got coats on. Interesting shift in the last week.


As regular readers will know, I’ve been thinking recently about networks. I’ve been wondering about how social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are metaphorically like a giant brain. 


Here’s what I mean. Your mind is a like a map; your thoughts, memories, ideas, worries, are mapped across your brain. Nodes, called neurons are connected with each other by synaptic connections, kind of like roads. There are between 75 and 100 billion neurons with something like 1000 trillion synaptic connections in the average brain. Your thoughts, memories, ideas, and worries light up various neurons and trigger reactions, or when we are thoughtful and reflective, responses. 


Facebook for example, has just over 2 billion active users. Think of each active user as a neuron. Then think of the links each active user has with his or her friends, imagine the links between 'friends' to be synaptic connections. So, many of the thoughts, memories, ideas and worries of each of your friends are then put up on Facebook, and they then light up other friends (or for the metaphor, other nodes/neurons).  And much like your brain, random thoughts, memories, ideas and worries start appearing. The image that keeps sticking in my mind is FB and social media are like the thinking and ruminating that happens every now and then at 2 am, when I can’t seem to get back to sleep!


In short, very little of the experience we have of social media is moving us forward. It is entertaining, compelling and fascinating, but it is not moving us forward.


As leaders, we need to be moving away from social media, except for entertainment, or for getting a particular message out into the network. It is not helping us move forward.


Rather than checking social media, here are three things you can do:


  1. Breathe. Take moment to breathe and get oxygen into your brain.
  2. Reach out and connect (phone, walk over) to a colleague for the 2 - 3 minutes you might be checking social media
  3. Do something creative, draw, doodle, write, play with an app like garage band.


I don’t think pulling yourself off social media completely is the answer, although that may be for some of us. Recognizing that it has been exquisitely designed to lure us into a marketplace of advertising and random thoughts, and making a different choice however, is becoming more and more important for all of us.