A Christmas Story Header Image

A Christmas Story

Article headline image. Paul Truesdell on

Posted in  Connecting Dots

As we approach Christmas, other than last minute retail shopping, traveling and standing in line to get a picture with Santa, or dining out with the herds that descended from the four corners, business is slowing down. Despite the twenty-four hour political ruckus, most Americans are starting a prolonged period of sitting around. When Christmas and New Year’s falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, as it does this year, productivity by any measure, generally falls off the cliff. What opportunity does this calendar-based sequence offer? Time.

Regardless of how well organized one is, the hours of freedom for the next few weeks, days, or hours in some cases, can be wasted or used to great effect. I for example, will begin my Christmas ritual in a few days, of settling down with a book from one of my favorite authors. Christmas is one of my quarterly breaks to enjoy a cover-to-cover fictional or biographical read. I am a bit concerned this year as the choice has not grabbed my interest as others have from years past. Fortunately, the WTP list (when time permits) is overflowing.

In years past, traveling during a quarterly break involved over-packing reading material. The physicality of books and waning interest in a poorly crafted storyline means that I long ago learned to have a back-up choice or two in the event that my primary selection is a stinker. And while I prefer to snuggle in an oversized chair or sofa with a traditional hardcover publication, I find that this is more often not the case as my backups are now digital. In fact, this will be the first year that I will intentionally not begin the ritual with a hardcover book. And so, as I pondered this the other day, it sparked a thought: “Are we less organized with convenience of the digital media?”

I don’t know but I strongly suspect so.

What I do know is that convenience breeds laziness. For me, I did not and will not spend the time I did in the past on weight distribution in luggage, shoulder bag, or briefcase. In fact, I rarely consider the weight of reading material anymore, although I do consider the weight and distribution of the two power bricks I never leave home or office without. My how times have changed.

“Make everything as simple as possible, but not more so.” Albert Einstein

A complicated task involves sub-tasks, scheduling, and monitoring. Planning for a relaxing Christmas is a project and requires basic project management skills.

“What did you do over Christmas Fred?”

“Nothing.”

“Did you see family? Did you have people over to the house or did you go to see someone?”

“Naw, just laid around.”

“Did you watch or do anything special?”

“Naw, I don’t think so, but I did see the game.”

“So what did you have for Christmas dinner?”

“Same old thing.”

I suspect that’s the give-and-take for tens of millions of Americans in the days after Christmas. Taking time to become a vegetable and layout in front of a television, or as is more often the case, with a smartphone and diving deeper into Facebook depression.

Convenience isn’t necessarily a good thing as it breeds bad habits. The convenience of 24/7 digital access has often turned reasonable people with reasonable expectations into PITAs with unrealistic expectations that can manifest themselves with outright disgustingly bad behavior. Let me give you an example.

I was told a story about an older lady, standing in the express self-checkout line at Sam’s with 12 items a few days ago. The line is for those with 10 items of less and I dislike those with a full cart abusing the system as much as anyone, but 12 items? No, it wouldn’t cross my mind to even think about 12 as being an inconvenience or disruptive event for me. But for an overweight woman with poor hygiene, and an obvious accent indicative of English as a secondary language, who loudly began creating a non-violent but highly disturbing scene, 12 items was a crime against humanity and her sensibilities. What a pig. Rather than succumbing to the verbal assault, the older woman remained in line, checked out without difficulty, and proceeded to ignore the pig behind her. All the while, the pig was on her smartphone engaged in a loud FaceTime chat. Is there a connection between the pig, her loud and impatient behavior, and her apparent addiction to her smartphone? I think so.

Regardless of one’s ethnic, cultural, or work background, convenience breeds laziness, impatience, and unrealistic expectations. I am convinced that “on-demand” shopping, delivery, and information has damaged the limited critical thinking capabilities of many borderline travelers on this ball of mud we call Earth.

Setting a realistic goal, final deadline, breaking the goal into tasks and subtasks, organizing the tasks in a logical order, setting dates and benchmarks, retaining and delegating efficiently and effectively, and then monitoring progress until completion is a skill set that is in high demand by every employer from border-to-border and coast-to-coast. And despite a vast army of college and university graduates, old-fashioned common sense is not all that common. Why?

Well, I’ve taken time to think about this a lot recently due to circumstances that have been beyond my control. Circumstances that require my inquisitive mind to wonder: “What the hell just happened?” And so, I’ve connected a few dots. Before I continue this blog post, know that Connecting Dots is the name of our public podcast at TrueStar Advisors. And connecting dots is what we do as a true fiduciary-based investment advisor, manager, and forecaster. If you’ve not bookmarked the podcast as a frequent digital engagement, you should.

And so, here’s a few dot’s I’ve connected:

  • Formal schooling too often blends and fosters compliance and downward mobility rather than entrepreneurial upward mobility.
  • Formal schooling is often antonym-based: right or wrong, yes or no, true or false.
  • Instructing to pass a test based on multiple choice or true and false questions breeds mindless followers rather than critical thinkers and creators, which is what true teaching is.
  • Repetition of bad behavior leads to ruts and failure.
  • Convenience breeds laziness and laziness is a rut.
  • Digital media is convenient.
  • Convenient information breeds less understanding.
  • Critical thinking requires effort.
  • Convenience breeds impatience and thus the ability to engage on a prolonged basis in a worthy goal becomes exponentially more difficult to achieve as time moves on and new generations fill the shoes of prior generations.
  • The result is an increasing segment of the population with extreme selfish, impatient, ignorant, and vocal propensities.

As mother was fond of saying: “It’s better to keep your mouth closed and let them think you are stupid, rather than open it and remove all doubt.”

With that said, it’s time to figure out which book is the right one to dive into during Christmas.

Think about it.