by Chris Moore

Confessions of an ex RIM email Addict – One CIO’s Story

Oct 24, 20074 mins

OK I am ready to admit that I am addicted to email on my rim. Actually as I confess to the world on this, I should say WAS addicted. I am off, finished, it is over – COLD TURKEY. It all hit me this past weekend when I was listening to Dr. Reggie McNeal speak about leadership and leadership disciplines. Dr. McNeal from North Carolina, author of “The Present Future” and “Practicing Greatness” really hit a nerve with me when he was speaking about Self Awareness and Self Management, two of his 7 disciplines.

At that point in the presentation it was like time stopped for me, I realized that I was letting emails run my life, day and night, composing, reading and replying, never a moment of rest. When you are addicted to something like email it controls you. Come on, I know many of you are in the same boat, so face the music. Like me, you run off to that corner of the house, or maybe in your car where no one is, so you can CHECK on your email, like a teenager running out to hide behind the woodshed to light up a cigarette. At this moment I also started to realize that some of my emails, and my email responses can really impact people, negatively. I had been told that before, and I thought I had taken care of it, but I knew that it was still not 100%. So let me explain. As a leader what I do and say impacts people. If I seem to be all over the place on an issue then it is very difficult for people to follow my leadership. It is like sitting in the last car on a roller-coaster: You get thrown around at every curve and dip, WITH FORCE.

When I would have an idea POP into my mind, I would formulate it for a few seconds then down from my mind to my little thumbs, typing out the latest thought or management direction with my staff receiving these and saying, WHAT is Chris thinking…… If only he would talk to me and not fire off these emails day and night. EVEN worse would be an email I would receive which I felt I needed to respond to REPLY ALL or NOT, again the response formulates in my mind, down my arms to the thumbs and out over the email…… Too many times I think I have created angst for my team by taking this approach, so to my team, who maybe didn’t know how to tell me, I figured it out and I AM SORRY. That approach to communication has ended. Meh, they already figured that out by now. Five days with no flurry of email has sent the message.

WE NEED PRESENCE. My email addiction also caused me to not be present when I was with people. I would be in a room with other people–family, friends or my team at work–but not be present with them as I pecked away on my email. So that is over. Present now means presence for me.

In the past 5 days, have I sent an email from my RIM? YES. Have I turned the service on and checked a few emails? YES. Do I still manage emails and email requests in a timely fashion? YES, YES, YES. I have just developed new techniques. New ways to manage my time and not have my RIM and email manage me.

In this very busy, non-personal world where we all want what is ours and what we have coming to us, let’s find ways to bring meaning back to the relationships we have with those around us. Put the RIM down and talk to the person next to you.