How Lessons Learned From Old Technologies Can Be Applied To Our Personal Development
This series of articles aims to raise our awareness of how mastering certain skills of personal development could have as important an impact on our lives as the technologies we daily take for granted. It will also show that not mastering these skills is like living in the darkness that preceded the advent of these technologies.
ARTICLE #4 – THE PHONOGRAPH
In this the fourth article, I will show how the personal development skills of listening (communication) and responsibility (leadership) can generate a similar impact in our personal life as the phonograph (the ancestor of the turntable, IPOD, and similar devices) did on society.
The latest descendants of the phonograph enable us to listen to music anywhere at anytime. Music is one of the ultimate forms of human creativity and expression. We can use the lessons derived from the device that enables to listen to this form of expression in order to liberate another form of expression: our authentic self in communication. I will demonstrate that it is possible to truly express our essence in our communication.
After reading this article, you will conclude that living without these skills is like living in the boring, musicless world prior to the invention of the phonograph.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877 in order to mechanically record and reproduce sound.
Before the phonograph (also called the gramophone), music was very much a social event. People gathered at a common location—a club, a concert hall, a bandstand—to enjoy music together.
But when phonographs started appearing in private homes in the early 20th century, a radical shift occurred: the living room replaced the concert hall and the club.
Thomas Edison with his second phonograph (1878)
Music also shifted from being a group experience to a personal one. And because performances were frozen onto records and heard exactly the same way each time, the music lent itself to more analysis. People learned to copy songs by listening to a record over and over again.
In the 1890s, Emile Berliner initiated the transition from phonograph cylinders to flat discs with a spiral groove running from the periphery to near the center. This innovation eventually led to another innovation: the turntable.
The disc phonograph record became the dominant audio recording format throughout most of the 20th century. From the mid-1980s, phonograph use declined sharply with the rise of the compact disc and other digital recording formats. While no longer mass-market items, modest numbers of phonographs and phonograph records continue to be produced in the second decade of the 21st century. They are mostly used by DJs.
Nowadays, there are multiple different devices—such as smartphones and iPods—which enable us to listen to music and record sounds wherever we want.
WHAT IS THE LINK WITH YOUR OWN EVOLUTION?
Imagine our quality of life without music. Now we can listen to music everywhere, thanks to smartphones and iPods. You can see people commuting, walking, skating, and even biking while listening to their favorite tunes.
The quality of life without authentic communication is similar to a world without music. It is a world bereft of the full expression of our humanity.
I propose that the lessons learned from the phonograph can be applied to your own life. I will explain 3 ways you can use them to express your humanity.
3 WAYS WE CAN USE THE LESSONS OF THE PHONOGRAPH
First: Listening and the internal dialogue
Listening is a very important skill in our lives. We also listen to our internal dialogue. But unfortunately, this dialogue is very often negative.
Our phonograph/iPod enables us to listen again and again to something that we like, something that moves us emotionally, and something that has a major positive influence on ourselves. We can do the same with our internal dialogue—instead of listening to negative chatter, we can listen to positive thoughts that will help us progress and move forward.
Second: Initiate a radical shift in your communication style
The phonograph enabled music to make a radical shift from being a group experience to a personal one. In many group experiences, people have a tendency to follow the crowd or the herd. They don’t always express who they are. When we are with other people, the majority tend to restrain themselves.
In your communication, you can shift from a group experience to a personal one by applying the following:
- Expressing what you really think:
- This means that you will stop listening to negative internal dialogue and not have any fears about being judged by your peers.
- And you would do it according to your values.
- Becoming independent from the herd mindset while still contributing to the majority.
One personal benefit of listening to music alone is that you tend to sing and dance without any restrictions, therefore expressing yourself naturally. If the phonograph/iPod has enabled this shift from a musical point of view, why not use the same principle to shift from the crowd and express who you really are, without any restrictions, when you communicate.
If you make that transition, you honor your own values and become who you are meant to be. This is what we call taking RESPONSIBILITY for your life, taking charge of your life, and becoming independent in thoughts and actions.
Third: Recording important ideas for our personal growth
You can record your thoughts on your cell phone, and later you can listen to them and try to develop those ideas. Jim Rohn said:
“If you hear or have a good idea, capture it, write it down. Don’t trust your memory.”
Then try to apply the ideas that can change your life, that can save your marriage, or that can help you become successful.
I record a lot of thoughts and ideas especially when I wake up at night. Later, I listen to them and write them down to start bringing them to life. Sometimes they do not make any sense so I eliminate them immediately, but in most cases they allow me to produce great things.
As we have seen, we can use the lessons learned from the phonograph to initiate a radical shift in our communication style by being authentic and by not listening to our internal negative dialogue. I encourage you to apply these lessons and you will see an improvement in your life
Be there for the next article of this series in which I will talk about the impact of the light bulb in our society and how we can use the lessons learned from this technology in our personal development.