Your skills vs. New Gadgets

I am such an early adopter of new technology, gadgets, etc. This has it’s pro’s and cons but one thing I see happen all the time as I go places and speak is when I share about this new toy tool there is a look that overcomes many in the room. It is this look of, “If I was to just buy that thing that he is talking about it would solve all my problems. This look I have seen overcome people from the times I speak about cloud technology to software to phones and more.

Seriously I have seen people so convinced that they would save so much time by getting things like a new computer, PDA (remember those things) or smartphone. Many people go through life thinking and believing this dream of how each new piece of technology is that solve all soulution that will finally put an end to all their problems–completely oblivious to the amount of time they will need to invest in switching from one device or one piece of software to the next. Their fundamental problem isn’t their tools. Their problem is their skill set.

In reality improving your skill set may not be any harder than trying to learn to use a new tool, but the difficulty of learning a new gadget or software is often hidden in the “new toy syndrome.” Something can seem exciting and fresh simply because it is different and it provides that rush of a feeling that you have conquered your issue (whatever that may be). It is enforced more by the feeling you get as you try to convince everyone that you are important enough or at least as important as so and so who introduced you to the new tool to warrant a $400 investment in the latest phone (this is one I am currently struggling with as Verizon has come out with their iPhone).
This feeling makes it easy to overlook just how much time you will be investing in something new. This feeling makes it seem like you are investing less time that you would have in increasing your skill to get the same level of benefit. Not always!! Snap out of it!! Come back before it is too late and you are driven into this delusion and it becomes too late and your check book shows it.

Here you have a guy lets call him Matt. Matt has this iPad that he loves and really does a ton from it. He is sharing with one of his buddies about how he loves this tool and could become more efficient in writting kids curriculum if he could learn to type on it quicker. So his buddy mentions to him that their is a great external key board he could pick up for only $99.00. But this would give him the ability to type faster. Matt goes to buy it and while he is in his online shopping cart he notices a great bag to hold the keyboard in. The bag is only another $30.00. He is worth this price, I mean he doesn’t want to lose the keyboard or drop it. But then there it is, he finds another great tool to help with typing up curriculum and it is some voice software where he could hook it up and speak and it would type for him. So he throws this in the online shopping cart.

Back at church he talks the financial person into buying a $250 microphone. Matt works on training the software and starts trying to use it in place of typing but when he needs to type he has in this great bag and wonderful external keyboard.

After a while Matt is going to realize that talking into the iPad doesn’t really make him as fast as he had hoped. He will either continue using the speech recognition software because it is marginally better than typing for him, or he will decide he dislikes voice transcription even more than he hates typing and go back to the slow and awkward tablet typing for himself.

This is where “Skills or New Tools” are really called on for a proper decision.

Matt could have spent the same amount time and less money in working on his tablet typing (by buying maybe a .99 app) and had become more proficient. Instead of buying the external keyboard, bag, and voice software. Bottom line that I try to get people to think through is watch becoming distracted by all the great tools out there and avoid not improving your current skills.

(I am in no way saying not get new gadgets, because as stated already I love technology and gadgets. I am just suggesting challenge yourself as to the reason why you want the new toy? Will this new gadget help improve your skills dramatically or can your skills improve without this gadget? ) Good questions to ask as the economy gets tighter for those of us in children’s ministry.

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