Long before we had GPS, Ways, Google Maps and, “Hey, Siri”, we only had paper maps and map books like ‘Gregory’s’ and the ‘Thomas Guide’.
When you got your first car, it came with ‘the bible’, a religious artifact, one that lived in the glove compartment or in the back seat of every car.
ASIDE: People of my age will also undoubtedly remember the many arguments between the navigator (aka ‘passenger / wife / partner / husband’) and the driver as to whether the fastest route was being taken.
When I had a large animal practice in Maitland, I would study the local Map Guide before going on a call to visit clients because your route would be a frenzy of flipping pages back and forth across the complex index system.
It was a good idea to get familiar with your routes before you had to make the trip. To this day, if someone mentions streets in almost any place in the Maitland, Cessnock and Kurri Kurri area, I know exactly where it is and how to get there.
But just recently, I met somebody who had once lived in East Maitland. He said the name of a street I’d never heard.
This ate at me.
So later I looked up the street on the internet and I discovered it is a street that I frequently used when I took a back-way to get out of my area but I never even knew its name.
And now I would say that it’s Siri’s fault.
Whenever I’m going anywhere, the first thing that I do even before strapping on my seat belt, is to “Hey Siri, give me the direction to wherever”. And then she does all the Map Guide, page flipping or whatever it is she does and guides me all along my route.
The trouble today is, if I’m most anywhere not too far from home here and my phone dies or I can’t get mobile reception, I’m snookered, I’m lost. I might wander out into the urban wilderness forever never to be seen again – or that’s how I feel.
You see, a GPS is great! It mindlessly and effortlessly guides you all along your journey.
Even if you screw up, it will be right there to alert you and to be sure that you don’t keep drifting off track it will instantly reroute you no matter how convoluted your route has become as ‘she’ guides you right back on track. Totally mindless and effortless for you.
And while this is great, it also creates a great dependence, massively decreasing the actual learning of your terrain and dramatically diminishing the attention that you give to your environment.
Our AI assistants are making us lazier and dumber
In many ways, our artificial intelligence assistants are making us lazier and dumber than ever.
Now there is an easy button for everything and it’s literally shrinking our brains.
Scientific American reported on a Chinese study that scanned the college-age high-volume internet users and found that their brains had literally shrunk as much as 10 to 20%.
As a leader – are you your team’s GPS?
Here is the key point: as a leader, you are acting as your people’s GPS.
You are telling them where to go and how to get there. You are giving them turn-by-turn directions and if they get off track, you’re there to alert them and then instantly re-route them.
Soon they will stop paying attention and learning for themselves. They don’t need to. You’re always right there, telling them what to do. You have created a dependence – an UNHEALTHY dependence.
And this atrophies their growth and development process, you are literally shrinking their brain by not allowing them to figure it out on their own and you’re stunting their potential.
Now, without you and your constant instruction, they grind to a standstill. Then you complain, “Why aren’t you making any progress? Why aren’t you figuring it out for yourself? Why do I always have to tell you what to do?”
It’s not their fault, it’s Siri’s fault ….and you’re Siri.
By the way, this is not only true of overly meddling leaders at the vet practice, but this is also true of overly meddling parents at home.
I know that you think you are trying to be helpful, trying to help guide and make their journey faster and easier, but you are actually creating dependence, you are stunting their growth and development process, and you are handicapping their skill and ability to figure it out for themselves.
And if you are not there at every moment, they will wander out into the urban wilderness forever, never to be seen again.
How do I do this?
The next time a member of your team asks, “How do you do such and such?”
Respond with “I’m sure you’ll figure it out” and let them. And even when you see them travelling off course, unless they’re heading full-force over a cliff, just let them get lost. Let them learn the error of their ways. Let them learn to figure out how to find their way back.
This is hard for you because you want to help protect and you want to help guide them in every way you can. While this is well-intentioned, it is greatly handicapping them.
When you give a person a crutch, they learn to limp…
You are causing your people, your children to limp. You are the crutch. They are continually saying “Hey mum” or “Hey boss” and there you are, at their beck and call like Alexa or Siri.
While it’s hard, this is one of the greatest responsibilities we have as leaders and as parents to let those under our care safely find their own way.