I distinctly remember missing a work call on one device because I was listening to music on the other and thinking “if only”.
In 2007 I joined Twitter and got an iPhone (I’m an Apple fanboi). Twitter was amazing back then – talk to strangers, stay connected. Over the next few years, my music was interrupted by calls, replies, breaking news, notifications and everything else.
A couple of years ago I saw the LightPhone – a phone designed for you not to use it. No notifications, no feeds, very pretty but simple design. And I thought it was a great idea.
So now I’m doing my own version of that.
I’ve switched off most notifications and I don’t carry my phone with me much. I can receive calls, send messages and listen to music and books on my Apple Watch (fanboi, remember?). But not much else.
And I can feel the difference. That urge to read any old crap because I’ve got 30 seconds to fill is still there but I’m aware of it and use that time to stay where I am instead.
Because you don’t have to keep doing things the same way you’ve always done them.
So what small change should you be making? And what’s stopping you?
Do you remember the Cobra beer advert? Where the guy who ran the company had a beer company and a bra company? And he was this good looking Indian fella with nice hair who was relaxed and did yoga at work?
(I know what you’re thinking – “Baz is talking about himself there” – sorry to disappoint you; good looking and nice hair, yes, but bras are still a mystery to me)
The thing with that advert though, is it’s probably the first time I saw a positive image of an Indian male on TV ever. I must have been in my late 30s, early 40s when I saw it.
That’s my whole life seeing people like me being represented as nerds with bad hair, who are general failures in life. That have to be rescued from social embarrassment by their pretty white friends.
A bit about me. I went to a private school. You’ve probably not heard of it, but people who went there went on to become bankers, barristers and the like. I used to sit next to a lad who, I recently found out, became the British Ambassador to a European country. The school boasts not one, but two former Chancellors of the Exchequer as ex-pupils.
A proper “establishment” place.
And I never felt like I fitted in.
There was a general attitude of superiority. “Because my parents are rich, because they’ve made it, that makes me better than everyone else”. Don’t get me wrong; I was there because my parents had money, it’s not like we were poor (although we had nowhere near as much as most of the others; we had a Volvo, they had Rollers).
And I hated the place.
One year, when I was about 7 or 8 (so a long time ago), we went back to visit family in India. Now, even in India, my family was pretty well off, but this particular day we visited my dad’s cousin and also drove past the hospital in which I was born.
My dad’s cousin lived in a two room hut by the side of a busy highway. He wasn’t poor. He had a place to live. His family was well fed and safe. But I was struck by how his house was nothing like mine. How different his life was to mine. And how, if I’d just been born in the next hospital bed, my life would have taken on a whole new shape. A pure accident of birth.
Because where you start from, that’s just luck. How you got here is unimportant. But how you treat people today, how you prepare for tomorrow – those things define who you actually are.