The joys of living in a faster world
24 Oct, 2007, 0041 hrs IST, By Vithal C Nadkarni for The Economic Times
A fortuneteller in Singapore once told Vince Poscente that he would die at 40. That stuck in the business consultant's mind. The best way to react, he thought, was to cram more living into the remaining lifespan. As a competitor in speed skiing, a demo event in the 1992 Olympics, Poscente was no stranger to speed.
By making peace with the whoosh of a 24/7 lifestyle, he discovered the joys of living in a faster world. This led him to a contrarian insight: speed leads to a more pleasant, less stressful experience. That has now been spun out in 36 essays, each no more than two pages long, contained in The Age of Speed, which has a hare leaping over the tortoise at the finishing line on its dust jacket.
Of course not everyone would agree. Many people complain of being overwhelmed by the speed and sheer pace of change in modern life. People do want things faster, but that’s for all those goods and services ‘wanted yesterday’. They do not necessarily want themselves to be rushed in their own work schedules.
Poscente argues that his book is really about choice and having the time to enjoy what’s significant in your life.
(By the way, he’s already outlived the prediction by six years!) Although technology has boosted productivity, the extra time is filled with even more productivity, he explains. What you need instead is to make tougher calls on desirable ways of spending time. He also talks about a new imbalance introduced by speed in the ‘love triangle’ of
Time, Quality and Cost: technology gives shortcuts that not only save time and money but also produce equal or better quality. If we can accept the positive potential that speed offers, we can do more, be more, live more, he writes. “We don’t have to assume that if we embrace speed, our lives will just get busier and busier. We need to adapt, evolve and shed our outdated or misguided perceptions of speed. Integrating home and leisure into work, can turn Time into a single powerful resource that we can use to accomplish our goals and dreams, regardless of where we are.”
That leaves the larger question how to spend the time. That’s where an insight given by Sunil Bharti Mittal triumphs. The Lord of the Rings whose company won an ET award, says he would like his company to represent the innate goodness of the Tatas with the speed of Reliance. He would like it to be a hybrid of the two great companies: ethics on speed; or speed with a heart.