Progress.

Progress.

John Stuart Mill wrote this in the Principles of Political Economy (1848): “Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being.”

Film and television critic, Nathan Heller, writes in a recent New Yorker column: “A measure of industrial progress is the speed with which inventions grow insufferable. The elevator, once a marvel of efficiency, has become a social purgatory from which most of us cannot escape too quickly. The builders of the first commercial airplane couldn’t have foreseen the crushed knees and the splattered salad dressings that their machine would visit on the world.”

At my most-recent mastermind group with multi-millionaires locked in a room for three days, I found it fascinating the number of doctors who had transitioned to taking notes on Moleskin notebooks, my preferred tool for note taking. Clearly, there are more efficient and effective apps on your smartphone for taking notes, aren’t there? Evernote leaps to mind. You can cross-reference and tag any snippet of data with the click of a mouse or swipe of your finger. Yet, I’ve used EverNote. I’ve even taken courses on how to use it better, and it sucks in terms of productivity. There is still nothing like a felt tip pen and paper.

Slack is a better communication tool than e-mail. Just like Evernote, it allows you to tag and segment conversations, upload files for sharing and add unlimited employees to the threads of your choice. Yet, I’ve used it. I’ve even taken courses on how to better use it. And, it sucks in terms of productivity, compared to sitting down with an employee face-to-face at a working breakfast meeting, setting goals and seeing their reaction to proposals and incentives.

Why?

Relevancy is one reason. To maintain close connection to your goals, your patients, employees, your family, anyone or anything important to you, I highly recommend you remove as many layers between you and that person or thing as possible.

It’s hard to see the reaction in your employee’s eyes and face when you propose a new opportunity or project via Slack or e-mail. You might want to consider talking to your kid about behavioral issues via real face time at dinner, not Apple’s version of face-to-face interaction over your smartphone. Parents who text their kids to come down for dinner need their heads re-examined. Listen. Just because it’s easy and flexible doesn’t mean you should embrace it. Hookers are easy and flexible. When it comes to progress, you CAN actually progress right over the edge of a cliff.

Instead of seeking “that which taketh the path of least resistance,” ask yourself what kind of results you want. Engaged employees, respectful children, productive patients – these can all be achieved without an ounce of technology. Make sense? Now, that’s what I call progress.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

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