Short answer: Nothing. Probably.
We are prisoners. Texts, emails and alerts of all kinds govern our lives. We check for them all the time. On those rare occasions when we can’t or don’t check, we are anxious to see what might have landed in the inbox. When there aren’t many messages we panic. What’s wrong? Where is everyone? Am I not invited?
Everyone receives plenty of messages, but only some of them really count. Messages about sales from every retailer in the world don’t count. Messages that tell you that you have been pre-approved don’t count. Texts from your Mom wondering if you made it home OK are important but don’t count. You know which messages matter. They are the ones that make your heart go pitter-patter or make your heart sink. Most of the ones that count are from your work colleagues or from that place that you really want to work.
In an elevator I recently overheard the following conversation, “This morning I had two hundred emails and forty texts.” The guy’s colleague was envious and replied, “Whoa, I only had about one hundred.” Hold on, this is not a contest and having the most messages is like having the most frequent flyer miles. I don’t want to lead the pack in either category. It is a mistake to measure our contributions or worth based on the numbers of texts or emails we receive.
There are several reasons why your number of messages may go down.
- Maybe you didn’t send any messages. The number of messages you receive is in direct proportion to the number of messages you send. Do an experiment and you will see that it is true. So if you want to measure yourself in message volume, just send a bunch out. You will be pleased with the results but it won’t mean anything. It’s a false sense of activity
- Maybe for once, everyone stopped sending messages for a while. Hard as it might be to believe, there are times, like holidays, when those around you decide not to send any messages. It could mean that people are enjoying time with their families or participating in other activities. Don’t take it personally, there is nothing wrong with you. In the infamous words of Stuart Smalley, “…you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it, people like you.”
- Maybe you really are missing something. It is possible – if you are not receiving messages from colleagues you could be in job trouble. If you are not on distribution lists or not getting invited to meetings or your email is turned off, it is time to dust off the LinkedIn profile. No need to be paranoid, just peek in all the conference rooms to see if you are really missing anything.
The number of messages you receive does not define you. The number of messages you receive has become a crazy indicator of importance. Don’t let that number dictate your world. I would guess the average is about one hundred messages received per day. So what? One message can change your life. A million messages can make your life dull.
The message is, count your blessings, not your messages.