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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

While here Malaysia, my BlackBerry was stolen.  It reminded me of something I wrote in my book Goal-Free Living:

Every day we are presented with numerous opportunities, but they often pass us by without our even noticing. In order to find these hidden opportunities, you must be sensitive to the environment around you. Sometimes this means disconnecting to stay connected.

Technology can be a wonderful boon to humankind, but sometimes we abuse it in ways that prevent us from really participating in life. For example, I have a BlackBerry phone. My original thinking was that this would free me from my computer and allow me to stay connected. Yes, it does allow me to stay connected electronically, but it also makes me disconnected from what I should really be doing—being present.

I once was having lunch with a colleague. Although my BlackBerry was sitting on the table with the ringer off, based on the color of a flashing LED I could tell if I had any new e-mails. I was waiting for an important message, so I was constantly glancing at the flashing light to see if it turned red. I received an e-mail every few minutes from someone—either a real person or spam. I did not receive the e-mail I was so eager to get until hours later. In the meantime I was completely detached from the person I was having lunch with, missing an opportunity to really be connected. This is how staying connected can interfere with being connected.

I wrote that in 2005.  Unfortunately, my CrackBerry addiction has actually worsened since then.

Now I am being put to the ultimate test.  My BlackBerry is missing and there no cost effective way for me to replace it until I return to the states in 3 weeks. I was able to buy an inexpensive “regular” phone with a local Malaysian number.  But my US mobile number will remain in suspended animation until I return.  No one will be able to send me text messages or leave me voicemails.  I will only be able to check email from my computer.  No more checking email every 30 seconds like I did with the BlackBerry.

I feel my withdrawal symptoms kicking in already.  It takes 30 days to break a habit.  Maybe this is my chance to break my CrackBerry addiction.  Maybe this is a chance for me to “stay connected by disconnecting.”

In addition to my other speeches in Asia, I will also be speaking tomorrow at the MPH bookstore in the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur.

  1. Dear Mr Steve

    It is an honour to meet you in Kuala Lumpur. I would like to thank you for sharing your great thought on Goal-Free Living.

    Hey! I am on final stage finishing my latest book entitled Managing Conflict in Street-smart Way. Surely our short conversation and your thought on Goal-Free Living will be included.

    Thank You!

    Notes: I took some photos during your event at MPH bookstore in the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur at this link:


    Local Author

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