“Technology exists to embarrass” | Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This may not be a quote you associate from reknowned social scientist “Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi” but it is one I’d like to share from our conversation this morning.

As I’ve gotten into the habit of giving previews of upcoming Real Leader interviews, this is an interview I am very excited about. Prof Mihaly was a treasure trove of insight around the topics we discussed – flow, happiness, skill, and intrinsic motivation. In some ways, you might say it is expected. Almost every psychology, behavior, and social science related book cites Prof Mihaly’s work.

So, why the quote? I had another Real Leader interview technology bad hair day. This happens roughly once every 6-7 interviews. I guess it is because of the enormous resources it takes (Skype video + screen recorder + audio recorder for back up) and I ended up wasting 15 mins of Prof Mihaly’s time as I had to restart my computer twice. Then, 5 mins into the interview, my screen froze again. It was very embarrassing. 

But, these incidents are such amazing learning moments. Prof Mihaly was kind, gracious, and humorous. When I expressed how embarrassed I was, he said “technology exists to embarrass” and we continued our conversation.

Prof Mihaly is 80 years old now. He’s started the world’s first Doctoral program in Positive Psychology at the Claremont Graduate University. He is trying hard to be less productive but, next month, he will be traveling to Kazakhstan, Australia, the Netherlands, and Russia. He is a legend in his profession and, yet, took time to take this call. He was patient, gracious, and humorous when things didn’t work and full of wonderful insights and learning from his career. He is happy (from a lifetime of practicing flow, perhaps?), energetic and keen to teach and share.

We really have no excuses.