Through the Looking Glass
In 2015 The Metropolitan Museum of Art was busy preparing for the Costume Institutes Spring Exhibit: “China: Through the Looking Glass”, a focus on Chinese imagery in art, film, and fashion. The annual Met Gala is known for its excess. Influential people with big smiles and bigger wallets clothed in couture gowns and designer suits are photographed and broadcast around the globe as attendees strive to outdo themselves and everyone else.
It takes months to put together each event. In the lead up to the 2015 gala every decision about the exhibit was parsed and examined. Where to put the vintage clothes on display? The artwork? Lighting? Seating? Guest List? Logistics? In the midst of this high dollar chaos, Wong Kar Wai, Exhibition Artistic Director for the MET, is quoted as saying, “Seeing too much is seeing nothing.” He’s not wrong.
I am certain that I will never attend the MET Gala, but we play out the theater of property management and leadership every day. Attended by an audience of thousands (of residents and team members), everything we do has significance. It’s not a stretch to say that poor performance in our industry is also photographed and broadcast worldwide.
I think it’s possible to get a little lost because we are seeing too much. Primarily, too much global information all the time. It’s distracting and not productive. We don’t see what’s right in front of us because the buzz, beep, and tune notifications call our attention away. In that moment of interruption lies the interrupted moments. We miss the chance to actually connect with our customers or to engage with our team members. We lose the opportunity to listen. I am not advocating that we force a cell phone bucket at the door policy and prohibit use of phones during the workday – that’s not practical for many reasons. But there are a couple of steps between everything and nothing that might serve us well.
The first one is easy and often causes alarm when I advocate for it, so brace yourself. Turn off all notifications. In every app. In a world addicted to Likes and Comments, this is a hard first step. It is also the most liberating. I find that people default to the worst-case scenario – but my child, my significant other, or parent might need me. But of the ten thousand clicks a day, how many are really for direct communication with your loved ones? Not shared memes or TikToks – but genuine, direct, person to person communication? Right. So – keep your phone. Turn off the notifications. Your loved ones can still leave a message or send a text. It’s possible that you may find that you lose some of the compulsion to check it every time you hear a buzz – because the buzz will be silenced.
The second step goes with the first. Set a calendar reminder to check your phone. Some of that anxiety related to FOMO can be assuaged by knowing you have an appointment to re-engage with your pocket tech. Take a few minutes, check on the family and even how many posts likes you have.
Then, set another calendar notification to put the phone back down. Seeing everything is seeing nothing.
What are your thoughts on this topic? We love to hear them so share your experiences below.
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