How Mutual Mentorship Empowers Us to Come Up For Air.
In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to feel like you're constantly treading water. With endless demands for our time and attention, it's no wonder so many of us feel like we're just on a neverending treadmill, trying to get things done with no end in sight.
I’ve been living and breathing efficiency for the past decade, and have come to appreciate the power of systems and tools in maximizing our productivity on a daily basis—both at work and in our personal lives. But there’s more to efficiency than meticulous processes and powerful tools. It's also about tapping into a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in our work. It's about finding a sense of connection and interdependence with others, and tapping into the collective wisdom of those who have come before us.
And who better to impart wisdom on the fundamentals of efficiency than the experienced and knowledgeable modern elders? They’re seasoned professionals who have not only survived but thrived in the rapidly changing world of work and technology. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, and their lessons can help us achieve greater success and fulfillment in our lives. They also have the insight to understand that it's not just about putting in the hours but about being productive and focused in the time we have. They know the value of a well-run meeting, clear communication, and a streamlined workflow to get more out of our day.
In many traditional cultures, elders were respected and valued members of the community, serving as mentors and sources of wisdom. In today's fast-paced, high-tech world, this kind of intergenerational mentorship is often lost. But the need for it is greater than ever. In a rapidly changing landscape, having access to the insights and experiences of those who have been there before can be a powerful asset. While the unique skill sets found in younger generations can offer a fresh perspective and open our eyes to new possibilities we hadn't previously thought possible.
So how do we tap into this collective wisdom to "come up for air"? Both in our own lives and for those around us? In and outside the workplace?
In my experiences at MEA and with Chip Conley—who I now consider to be one of my most valued mentors—my eyes have been opened to the power of mutual mentorship. And in my world of operational efficiency, I've seen a common thread emerge time and time again.
There are tried-and-true principles that must be obeyed if teams or individuals want to operate efficiently in the workplace. But those principles only add value if they're implemented with the right technological systems and tools. This is the main thesis of my book, Come Up for Air: How Teams Can Leverage Systems and Tools to Stop Drowning in Work.
Because the simple reality is that technology alone will not get us to where we need to be. And while wisdom is a valuable asset, one can only realize its true value in the workplace if it's implemented in a practical way. Sure, you'll hear me talk about the best ways to set up a work management tool or optimize email usage. In my book, I dive into the details on how to optimize processes with certain tools or create automations that save seconds each day, adding up to hours over time.
But I also have a simple rule: It's not the tool, it's how you use it. What I mean is that technology itself is not the end all be all. Really, it's about how you use it—and in the workplace, it's about how you use it as a team. Much of the advice in the book is around how to apply classic productivity principles to new technology in the workplace. It just goes to show that wisdom will always apply.
By combining the wisdom of our modern elders and the technological aptitude of today’s youth, organizations can inspire innovation, build stronger internal connections and achieve greater success. Modern elders are in a position to offer valuable advice to younger generations, but they should never ignore the wisdom that other generations have to impart on them. It goes both ways.
In Come Up For Air, I outline a number of strategies for maximizing productivity and efficiency, including tips for reducing wasted time, streamlining communication, and improving teamwork. Many of these strategies are timeless principles that will apply now and into the future. But I also dive into details on exactly how to use new tools and create optimal systems for working through technology.
If you're feeling overwhelmed or overworked, I invite you to come up for air with me. Whether you're a modern elder or just entering the workforce, an employee or manager, or even an individual looking to save some time, I know you'll find something of value in Come Up for Air. My ultimate goal is to save millions of hours and billions of dollars in lost productivity—and I need your help to achieve it. So, will you join me?
Nick Sonnenberg is an entrepreneur, Inc. columnist, guest lecturer at Columbia University, and the WSJ bestselling author of Come Up for Air: How Teams Can Leverage Systems and Tools to Stop Drowning in Work. He is the Founder and CEO of Leverage, a leading operational efficiency consultancy that helps companies implement his CPR® Business Efficiency Framework. And, he’s been to MEA Baja 6 or 7 times.