Living on the delta

“What’s different?”

Because we rarely notice what’s the same.

It’s not easy to focus on the chronic. In fact, it’s really difficult. Too often we are in organizations that are highly leveraged, living from quarter to quarter, or we’re depending on clients or bosses from day to day. Too often, we don’t have enough in reserve to focus on anything but what’s changing or what’s getting the spotlight.

It’s the chronic issues that end up causing the most pain. Systems at work that never get better, or problems that fester.

For too long, there have been lousy schools, inequitable opportunity and the pain of grinding poverty. There have always been innocent people in prison and unheard voices in need of our help. There has long been graft and inefficiency and the tragedy of preventable illness and discomfort.

But we’ve too often turned away from those issues, from the things we’re accustomed to, because they appear to be the same as they were. The status quo is there because we’ve accepted it. We might have worked hard on some of the issues, but it seems impossible to be on our toes about all of them, all of the time.

And marketers have pushed us to focus on the new movie, the new crisis, the new tech…

When sudden change hits, it’s easy to get focused on it to the exclusion of everything else. It’s the delta, the change, the acceleration–it attracts our gaze. And we can’t turn away, or it feels like we can’t.

The media is in the delta business. That’s all they do, that’s what they get paid for, and they work to maximize our addiction to it.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to spend time away from the delta, but if you can, it’s worth the effort.

,The problem with living on the delta is that as we strap into a rollercoaster of external change, we forget to work on the problems we have the opportunity to improve.