Nigel Paine – You’re going too fast for your own comfort

There’s a real sense of disjunction at the moment, a feeling that the world is exciting and moving forward, but also “I can’t cope, it’s just, it’s just always on too fast.” I talked to someone in his 80s, who was a very senior director at Shell before he retired, and he said to me, he had no idea, he had literally no idea how people could work today. He said, you know, he was one of the top eight in Shell, and he said “my life was slow, measured, simple, we took our time, we wrote letters” he said, “we never ever – and how people can cope with all of the stuff flying in, and instant decisions and…” so he said “I’m in awe of people working today, because I couldn’t do it.”

It’s very interesting, and it was all about speed, all about speed. So I think we adapt, we are definitely adapting, we – I would say the amount of information I process in a day, my father would have processed it in a year probably, or a month. There is no way, in comparison, there’s no comparison to the way that I work, and therefore probably my productivity and the things that I can output. It would have taken him a week what I can do in an hour, but it’s also scary, the fact that the pressure is never ending.

So I think that’s a key issue, and I have no answers to how do we manage that, we don’t stop, we can’t stop, we have to just apply filters now. I think the way that people are dealing with it, is the old traditional method of getting things done, the Allan model, which is you focus on one thing at a time, and in that moment you are shutting everything else out, and then you focus on another thing, and you don’t let the flow overwhelm and panic you. Because I meet people in panic. Literally in panic. They spend their lives in panic, and it’s scary, and it’s not good, you burn out, that’s how burn out happens when you just can’t – you’re going too fast for your own comfort.

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