Some years ago, Microsoft claimed that the attention span of a human being had evolved so dramatically that it was now shorter than the attention span of a goldfish.
Eight seconds for us human beings.
Nine seconds for the average goldfish.
I added the average word.
Because I can’t imagine that every single goldfish is the same. There must be goldfish with a longer span and with a shorter span.
After some back and forth, it looked like the story was all made up. Credible resources could not be found.
What’s undeniable, however, is that we’re easier distracted than ever. Too many impulses and a limited capability to set a clear vision for ourselves of where we’re heading and how to get there.
In other words, opportunism is at an all-time high.
Worse, it will never get lower than it was today.
For the record, here’s the definition of opportunism:
Opportunism: the art, policy, or practice of taking advantage of opportunities or circumstances, often with little regard for principles or consequences.Merriam-Webster
I was painfully reminded of this opportunism trend after a football game against Manchester United.
Manchester United has had a Dutch coach since this season.
His English is adorable, he’s not yet used to the intensity of English journalism, he works at a club that’s more theatre than football, and many people are waiting for him to fail.
Pro football around the globe is opportunistic; England is even worse, and Manchester United is the worst of all.
But Erik, that’s his name, who is from the same part of the Netherlands that I’m from (Twente), is not afraid of a challenge.
Plus, Erik has a vision and has demonstrated in the Netherlands that he knows what he’s doing.
As most of us know, it takes time to make your vision part of the DNA of any organization and to change the culture accordingly.
It might take years sometimes.
But in football, one doesn’t have years, not even months.
Plus, if you’re a foreigner, you speak funny English, you are a bit arrogant (or insecure), and you’re not used to the English shark journalists, they’re out for you.
So Erik has to perform. Now!
Unfortunately, Erik lost his first two games. And the sharks came after him.
“Worst performance ever.”
Quotes like that we on the front page of the English newspapers.
Erik’s first game was against Liverpool. Some said that if Erik lost badly, his job was over.
The company is owned by Private Equity investors from the US, who have not seen good performance for years. They’re running out of patience.
But Erik didn’t lose the game.
And Erik won with a team that showed fighting spirit from the first until the last minute.
The apathy was gone, almost every fight for the ball was won, and the team showed resilience, passion, and determination to win the game.
Erik went from failure to genius in 90 minutes.
Former football player turned journalists expressed their disbelief on Twitter:
“Never seen anything like this.”
“Extend the man’s contract.”
I realize I’ve picked one of the most opportunistic businesses in the world, followed by people with an attention span shorter than a goldfish.
I also realize that newspapers need to sell.
Got it. Not naive.
But I remain worried that we’re living in a world where people with great vision will not get the time to install their vision in the teams and organizations they’re working with.
There’s too much at stake.
Expectations are higher and higher.
Returns are expected to come in faster and faster.
People need to work harder and harder.
Bonuses are becoming bigger and bigger.
Higher. Faster. Harder. Bigger.
That’s the world we live in.
So allow me to end this story to you by informing you that I’m heading out for a swim.
Your turn: do you have the time?
Do more of what makes you happy!
What are you waiting for?
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