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Are we missing the ‘real’ value?

August 3, 2023
I (Ben) feel that sometimes we get so busy ‘doing’ we go into auto pilot and, as a result, often miss the true intent or value. We start to become transactional!

Allow me to illustrate some examples (person and work based) that I have noticed recently.

I travel for work, I’m away a lot. When I get home I feel I must make up for lost time. Every night our family sits and eats dinner together. I help in the kitchen; our son sets the table; we eat. I tend to pack away and tidy the kitchen so we can all … go about our other things.

Our younger son Nick is a real talker, he eats his dinner slowly, and is always the last to leave the table. I would then start to pack up around him, ferry stuff to the kitchen, wipe the benches etc. trying to do my bit. I’ve now realised this time with Nick is gold … and I’ve been missing it. I ‘thought’ I was helping by cleaning and tidying but I fear I’ve missed the important bit, the true value, listening and interacting with my son. When this was pointed out to me, I could not believe it, it was right there in front of me. I’d missed it for all these years. Dinner had become transactional.

Another example is online learning, prevalent since covid. Yes, I feel there is a time and place for online learning. However, is there a ‘human interaction’ element gained only through face to face over and above the ‘transactional stuff’? Online tends to be transactional.

As I write this, I recall a story some years ago about a post office in a small Victorian town being shut down. Whilst the townsfolk would miss their postal service what they realised was that the post office was a social mecca for the town. It was a place to interact, to share, to have a chat etc. They feared that without the physical post office, this social space would also be lost. I think our table is much the same!

What I ‘think’ I did all these years is think that dinner was about eating the food (and tidying up afterwards). Now, I’m going to ‘try’ to think of it as creating family opportunities and interactions (the important bit) … and we eat dinner and tidy up.

What ‘real value’ opportunities do you recognise as being missed? I’m interested to hear what you think. If you’d like to comment, please contact me ben@vwaust.com.