'Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir studies the brain on scarcity. Shafir states that it doesn’t matter what kind of scarcity you’re dealing with. When humans don’t have enough of something, that fact dominates their consciousness; at the exclusion of everything else. Shafir says for the poor, constantly solving money problems takes up a huge amount of the their cognitive capacity — a limited resource. There’s very little of it left to worry about things that are not right in front of your eyes … and then you start doing things you wish you hadn’t done. You don’t quite remember to do things on time. You don’t anticipate things that are going to happen tomorrow.’ (1)
This “bandwidth poverty” affects how the poor think. However, the same applies to others under stress when experiencing extreme scarcity in their lives. Managers need to be cognitive of the stress their people are under, whether personal or professional, as the same principles of bandwidth poverty apply. This can manifest itself in unsafe work practices, poor quality workmanship, or lack of creative output.
The issue of bandwidth poverty should be on the table for organizations that are seeking to innovate in a fast paced work environment. Understanding how to channel creative thought and energies are necessary for achievement as well as energizing a creative and productive workforce.
(1) paraphrased from an article by Laura Starecheski on NPR.org
“When an innovation is being first introduced, it is always met with fierce resistance and ridicule by those who fear change. But in the end, action speaks louder than empty words and time will tell who is right and who is wrong. As history wills it, since then, Apple (AAPL) has risen to unprecedented heights through the success of the iPhone, while BlackBerry has faded into obscurity by stubbornly adhering to outdated traditions.”
William Feng, Seeking Alpha, on how Corning is at risk to become the next “Blackberry” in its response to Apple’s coming introduction of Sapphire glass.
"What you think, you become
What you feel, you attract
What you imagine, you create"
Sitting down by the highway
Looking down the road
Waiting for a ride
I don’t know where I’ve been
Wishing I could fly away
Don’t know where I’m going
Wishing I could hide
Oh God this is some shape I’m in
When the only thing that makes me cry
Is the kindness in my baby’s eye
- Jackson Browne, ‘Sleeps Dark and Silent Gate’
Uncertainty can test your confidence, beg you to withdraw, avoid, and run away. While confidence may ebb and flow, there is comfort in being able to retreat to the inner strengths that define your character. Believe in the good and it will make you strong.
I’m gonna find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we’ll fill in the missing colors
In each other’s paint-by-number dreams
- Jackson Browne, The Pretender
These are some of my favorite lyrics… not just because of the impassioned feelings they evoke but also because I see them as a metaphor for the essence of teamwork. Very seldom do we achieve anything great on our own as most human achievement happens through the collaboration of many. We build upon the work of others; we make contributions; or we facilitate the creative process. Working together, we fill in the missing colors of each other’s paint-by-number dreams. And, underlying it all, are bonds of teamwork based upon love and commitment to a common purpose that is buoyed by our sense of creative freedom and joy of laughter.