Your BREAK THROUGH, Vol. 1, Post 40

I’m sitting in a coffee shop waiting, waiting, waiting. Our meeting started 20 minutes ago, but still no one walks through the door.  How did I get here?  And why am I here, waiting, yet again?

Last month I posted a photo of my flip phone and a piece on why I still use this archaic device. While it has become a prop during public talks, and a somewhat iconic piece of my innovation fabric, it is not just a gimmick.  I value this hacking tool, and when it tumbled onto the tile floor today from my careless handling, I shuddered, thinking that it might be the end.

For a moment though, I considered some of the issues that I could solve if the phone broke and I was forced to purchase a modern day cellular.  Issues like this one of waiting …

I’ve now been stood up nine different times, in nine different coffee shops, for nine different meetings.  But I can not fault the no-shows.  In fact, they did the courteous, smart-phone-world-paradigm-thing of sending an email.  And when those emails came in 12 to 30 minutes prior to the meetings, I had already been on the road, or already at a table drinking coffee. They didn’t know I wasn’t connected to email, and based on how things run today, they shouldn’t expect otherwise.  Mea culpa … living on the cultural fringe takes a great deal of responsibility.

When I’ve shared this no-show pattern with friends and colleagues, the response is generally the same, “sounds like it’s time to get a real phone.”

As you might guess, that’s not my response.  I instead ask myself, “hey dummy, why has it taken you nine times to figure out an alternative plan?” Cultural shifts take time; changing individual people takes even longer, especially when it’s you.

If I’m not going to give in and buy a real phone, then it’s time to ask the idea-generating question, “What else might work?” Beyond my silly little technology indulgence, this question should become a habit, something we ask constantly when faced with a challenge or opportunity, and something we should ask even if we’ve already come to a cool solution.  We should ask this question to exhaustion. And then, ask it again.

I’ve now asked, “what else might work, other than buying a modern device, to avoid being stood up?” And guess what? I still sit in coffee shops alone, but that’s now almost always by choice.