Is The Internet Your Servant or Your Master?


pre-Internet age

Every day, I stumble across more articles about overwhelm, lack of focus, information overload, not-enough-time.

It seems that the Internet is increasingly proving to be both a blessing and a curse in our lives. More information available than we can ever hope to use but less practical advice on how to use it to improve our lives, achieve our goals or build successful businesses.

Endless “how to do stuff” tactics. Very little “Why or What if” strategies.

I am old enough that my late father, who was born at the start of the first World War could remember horse-drawn delivery wagons, fire-engines and a few remaining carriages. He served in India between the wars and told me fascinating stories of how great commercial and administrative empires were built and managed without telephone or radio communication. Many of the more remote outposts could not even be contacted by telegraph.

Huge fortunes and business empires were built even though it could take up to 5 months for a reply to a request to be received from head office in London. The joke was that frequently the author of the request could be long dead and buried from a tropical disease before the reply arrived.

Major battles were waged 2000 years ago in Roman times, thousands of men and animals, commanded, fed, supplied with equipment. Communication for all of that by word of mouth, messenger or hand delivered letter. Before that, massive construction projects, the Pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge in Britain and the Mayan temples. Major logistical challenges even by today’s standards, but accomplished then without the benefit of any modern technology.

The Internet has made it easier for anyone with a computer or smart phone to become an author, set up an affiliate marketing business, advertise a range of professional services from Astrology to Zen philosophy, for minimal cost. It has opened the floodgates for a tidal wave of wannabee entrepreneurs. That is a wonderful thing and there are huge numbers of entrepreneurs that have succeeded.

But there is an inverse correlation between the cost of entry in a given field and the failure rate of new entrants. The less it costs to start a business in any given field, the higher the proportion of new entrants with lower commitment and the greater the failure rate. Failure for many in the Internet related field does not need to be of the catastrophic lose-the-family-home variety, for many it just means that they continue learning, hoping and essentially indulging a hobby.

It’s not just about setting big goals, that is important, but without commitment and action no goal will ever get achieved. Laura Leigh Clarke published a guest post “The Success Paradox” on that subject on the Firepole Marketing blog.

What’s the difference? The ones who succeed take action, they implement, get things done, instead of continually accumulating information. Their commitment is absolute, just like the entrepreneurs of hundreds of years ago.  In that period, when many of today’s business empires were in their infancy, failure could mean a lingering death in a debtors prison, disgrace, starvation and a life of servitude for one’s family. That level of risk would certainly concentrate the mind and build total commitment.

We need to be more discerning than ever with how we spend our time, making the right choices about being a consumer of information or being a producer of value, in the form of content, product or services. That goes for both entrepreneurs and employees, we will be remembered for what we produced, created or sold, how we helped others improve their lives. Not for our numbers of social media followers, tweets and updates or efficiently read emails.

The Internet is a wonderful tool but we need to control it, not become a slave to it.

Are you more of a consumer of information than an implementor, an action taker? Or have you found the right balance between consuming and producing?

Wishing you a successful life.

Peter Wright





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  5 comments for “Is The Internet Your Servant or Your Master?

  1. May 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Great post…..Peter.

    We share much in common.
    Our businesses grew profitably before Computers and Cell Phones.
    I remember the Big day I stretched to get a IBM Selectric for the office manager.

    How did we do it?

    Through personalized communication and the provision of Value delivered with integrity.

    I will say we grow even stronger today by following the same Mission…

    But the Internet has opened the door to more qualified prospects who become Customers and friends Globally

    • May 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      You are quite correct Chuck, I remember the amazement with which my staff watched the first fax message arrive in our office. That was a giant leap forward from the telex (teletype) machine, but both are now almost obsolete.

      I think the combination of our generation’s experience, the curiosity of the younger ones and sensible use of technology will achieve amazing things.

  2. Roberta
    May 29, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Yes…I agree. Great post. Both of them. (That is, The Success Paradox too.) What am I? A little of both with an emphasis on the action taker. Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. At least that is what my father always told me.

    • May 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Roberta, a lot to be said for that success formula.

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