The old television show ER started streaming on Hulu. I was riveted to the series when it originally came out in 1994 – planning my evenings around each weekly episode so I didn’t miss its singular airing. Now that the show is available again, I felt the tug of nostalgia to watch it for the second time.

What has been most prevalent for me is not the flirting between Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway – the main theme of the original airing – but the vast improvements that we have made in technology since the show was made. There were no cell phones or hand-held computers, and no camera was to be found even when Bulls star Scottie Pippen came in. Surgeons lived by their pagers which displayed no more than a number to call from the closest pay phone. The televisions were consoles. The phones were landlines, even rotary dial ones, and were attached to voicemail recorders that became full. There was no electronic social media. Patient records were kept by hand on paper charts while the surgical schedule was maintained on a whiteboard. Lab results were returned via dot matrix printer and ultrasound results were stored on VHS tapes. Thick phone books were the lifeblood of the admitting desk.

Think of all that we have learned since 1994. Most of us have a working proficiency on the new technology that has come our way – and we have done so without any formal classes. We have learned continually, through trial and error, through one-on-one tutorials and by general sharing of information.

Expand this behavior and don’t limit your learning to just the new gizmos and gadgets. Keep abreast of trends in your industry, of innovations in the world in general or just learn a new technique in your hobby. If you stop and look back at all the knowledge you have amassed since 1994, you will amaze yourself. Be able to say the same thing when you’re watching This is Us beamed onto your wall twenty years from now!

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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