the graduates of today…

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I’ve spent some time today with some new graduates joining the organisation.  It’s day two for them.

Driving to the venue I reflected on being one of them…  thirty years ago.

I was now standing in front of them, much as key leaders had been marched out in front of me all that time ago. Then, the leaders were booted and suited. Ties, business suits and highly polished brogues. Today I am in an open neck checked shirt and chinos. Over or under dressed?

I sat on a panel as groups presented their thinking around a business priority. We questioned them, then they questioned us. They seem more worldy wise than I recall being in my time. Great questions about society, change and cultural diversity. A colleague on the panel suggested our pension was in safe hands.

My session with them explored self, authenticity and learning agility. And it seems that although the graduates of today are more connected, more aware, more socially responsible and possibly smarter, they still suffer everyday human frailties. They were still worried about how they came across, still wanting to be reassured, encouraged. They still wanted to be heard, accepted, understood. They discussed self awareness and being themselves, yet they still had limiting beliefs about what was possible, albeit fuelled by a hunger to achieve and succeed.

It seems that whilst much has changed in thirty years, much is the same.

Their very humanity, their vulnerability, their humanness, no different to ours all that time ago.

Maybe that’s a sign of how we need to develop our education, our learning about being human? Maybe the focus on learning ‘stuff’ is strangling our ability to learn about the nature of being human?

working as a pear

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When I was at school, I studied Latin. Only for a year as, despite getting an A in end of year tests, I was deemed a scientist. I therefore got to study Physics, Chemistry and Biology as separate subjects. French was my ‘permitted’ language.

Now, with the benefit of some life experience, I realise all these choices, mine or those made by the academic system, were all somewhat pointless. I haven’t really used any of this knowledge to any great degree.

The other day I was designing some training with a colleague. We were creating a storyboard with post it notes. She wrote ‘work as a pear’ on one. Instantly her face crumpled and tears of mirth welled in her eyes as she chortled over this ridiculous concept and silly spelling faux pas (French eh?). I began to snigger too. We enjoyed the moment. Together.

I wish at school I had been offered the subject ‘learning to laugh at myself’. This skill would have been much more useful. The ability to laugh at our mistakes. To laugh at our occasional ridiculousness. Hold our slip ups lightly. Know that everyone is human. Simply lighten the day with laughter and a smile. These are useful skills. De-stressing. Providing context. Perspective. Building togetherness, teamwork. Embracing human frailty. Knowing that we are all fallible yet all amazing.  Feeling good about yourself. Letting others see you, without fear. Building connection.

I recommend laughing at yourself several times each day. It’s good for the soul.

I use it more than any chemistry, physics, biology, Latin or French.