During the run-up to the fall of Rome, entertainment in that civilization became more violent and what many people these days would probably call immoral.
If you look back to Rome, you might not see the parallel to today but I’m sure you’re familiar with the words “Those who forget / ignore history are doomed to repeat it.“
As Roman civilization flourished, they valued education, representative government as they knew it, the works of scholars of the time and times before theirs, infrastructure, design, innovation and more. Sound familiar?
But something changed. At some point, the Romans became complacent. Over-confident. In today’s lingo, we might look at their later years and characterize them as “fat and happy”.
When you read back over what Romans wasted their energy on as their civilization crumbled, you might describe it with words like class warfare, cultural differences and entertainment.
In Roman times, you became the entertainment by being different from the mainstream Roman populace. It didn’t matter whether it was religion, social standing, financial standing or whatever. If you qualified, you were a normal day’s entertainment.
By entertainment, I mean the target of the carnage that took place in the Coliseum and elsewhere.
Something turned them from improving themselves and their society to consuming the equivalent of today’s reality TV. The relationships and trust they built as a society and used to build Rome were consumed with drama, suspicion and conspiracy.
Fast forward 600 to 800 years (or more, depending on your view of history). What’s different today aside from the delivery mechanism? Today’s entertainment is a flat panel TV playing the “Real Housewives of New Jersey”.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “the (Real Housewives) reunion was up 33 percent in 18-49 and 28 percent in total viewers compared with the prior year’s season ender. The ratings performance boosted the season 9 percent in viewership and 3 percent in the key demo compared to the second season. Bravo also touts that the New Jersey subsite lured 3.7 million page views and roughly 430,000 streams, 14 percent and 23 percent jumps respectively the day following the previous week’s episode.“
That’s 3.4 million Americans sitting in the equivalent of the Coliseum, watching allegedly adult women in cocktail dresses take on the roles of Christian and lion.
3.4 million Americans and (as noted above) millions of internet users rewarding Bravo for creating this sputum.
How are you spending work time?
That Hollywood Report quote about viewership numbers was from FIVE years ago. What’s changed since then? Perhaps the names of the shows or the cast, but not the gist of what they deliver.
What are you spending your time on? What are you doing to help you, just you, stay on task and on target? If you look back at last week and are completely honest with yourself about what got done and what didn’t get done, what was the cause for things that didn’t get done?
What have you done to prevent that from happening again this week? Perhaps nothing, but now I hope you’re thinking about it, so I’ll ask in a different tense: What can do you to prevent that from happening again this week?
What can keep you on task? What can protect you and your time from inane distractions? What can be delegated, deferred or ignored, even for a day?
It isn’t solely you who has this challenge. What are you doing to help your team stay on task and on target? What can protect their time? What can they delegate, defer or ignore for a day? Assuming you are their direct manager, what are you doing to protect their time and allow them to focus on the one thing you really need them to get done this week?
How are you setting an example for your team in these areas? How are you reporting your findings on what makes you more effective, less frustrated, less distracted, more focused? What are you placing in front of them, ready for them take a swing at?
How are you spending your downtime? You may not have any influence over your team’s downtime, but you can still set an example.
Jim Rohn said (paraphrased) “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who are your five people? Are the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” on the list?