In my work coaching, doing keynotes, workshops, and interacting with multigenerational and multicultural audiences, one thing stands out. Invariably, I strike a chord, something clicks, and the crowd nods and smiles. They get that it’s your job to learn what is necessary.
But for about 50% of the people resonance isn’t enough. They come up to me afterward wanting to dig a little deeper and share their experience privately, one-on-one. They get a glimpse of what society lacks or has almost nothing to say about—emotions, intuitions, longings, biases, tendencies, character, and fulfillment, and they want to explore those deeper waters.
My task is to recognize that society is vocal about career skills but is voiceless when it comes to things that matter most. Calculus, English, where to put a comma or use a semicolon are prized skills. But the qualities that make a real difference are poorly understood, and so they are ignored. This manifests as a collective hunger to connect on a deeper level.
Even the best schools where intelligence, academic achievement, and prestige are established norms do not connect or correlate well with things like understanding and insight into the human condition, fulfillment, connection, emotions, and relationships.
We Overlook That It’s Your Job to Learn
We tend to think of learning as preparation for doing. You go to school, finish your degree then you start your career. But this view, like the Edsel, is obsolete. Again, it’s your job to learn what is needed and go after it.
In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.—Eric Hoffer
The visible markers of the things that will help you inherit the earth—emotional well-being, self-management, social awareness, and a professional reputation, are byproducts of a life invested in continual learning. But again, society notices when these qualities are not present more so when they are.
Indeed! In our fast-changing world, the qualities that will help you grow and stay relevant are higher-order life skills of which intelligence is not at the top.
- Self-Awareness is at the top. High self-awareness will enable you to recognize your moods, emotions, and what is driving your actions. At a foundational level, you intercept and rationally redirect emotional triggers. Investing for the far side of low self-awareness, you avoid road rage.
- Self-Management will help with self-control, composure, flexibility, and adaptability…to consider your impact on others before acting.
- Relationship Management. You know that finesse, influence, and persuasion is much more effective than the conditioned reaction of commanding and directing.
Life is an inherently emotional business that requires more than “training.” But somehow, the things that don’t lead to flourishing and fulfillment are continuously emphasized at the expense of the things that do.
It’s your job to recognize this skewed lack and make up for it. Someone may want to talk to you about it privately, one-on-one.
We think too much and feel too little. —Charlie Chaplin