I'm sorry, there isn't time
“Can I just say that this is, in fact, the first time I’ve ever appeared on television?”
“No, I’m sorry there isn’t time….” (Monty Python)
An increasing number of the business emails I receive include little taglines telling me there isn’t time.
“Yours in haste….”
“Apologies for brevity….”
“Sent on the move…”
And, even if I don’t use a tagline, I know that I collude; “…let’s have a quick chat…” or “…can we grab a coffee?”
I remember Russell Brand’s verbose appearance in front of the UK Parliamentary Select Committee On Addiction when the chair, Keith Vaz, said, “I think we’re running out of time.” Brand responded (brilliantly), “Time is infinite. We cannot run out of time…”
It doesn’t feel like that. We’re addicted to the idea that there isn’t time…
Yet taking time and offering attention is an intervention itself into the way our organisations skim across the surface of our most serious issues.
On grabbing coffee, two of our popular vendors proudly announced that they would remove the environmental damage due to plastic coated paper cups by exchanging them for compostable corn starch cups. Their twitter fanfare was soon deleted as it was pointed out no-one had taken time to ask where corn starch came from, how much water it required, how much land was needed, how much food would be displaced? What about the extensive soil damage caused by maize growing? Or the pesticide use?
And that deeper social structures, including the consumerist values promoted by the vendors, means that customers need to rush down the street, coffee in hand, to their next abbreviated and probably equally ineffective conversation.
We need to take time.
For deeper conversation and better listening. For high quality attention that cuts through the superficiality of a snatched few minutes and probes into the deeper structures of our problems, issues and concerns.
Let’s take time to speak to each other with care and attention.
As we sit down to drink our coffee from a proper cup.
Enjoy the utterly chaotic Monty Python’s ‘Election Night Special’ here on Youtube
Read Cal Newport’s ‘Deep Work’ and the ‘killer app’ of attention.
Have a look at photographer Chris Jordan’s stunning imagery on consumption; here is a link to a picture of the one million plastic cups used on airline flights in the U.S. every 6 hours.
Finally, read George Monbiot’s column on a better kind of disposable coffee cup.