Parents are constantly planning for what skills to introduce to their children for the future. Since the last Industrial Revolution focus has been on the STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Lately, parents have become more liberal and willing to accept Arts, Literature, or even Sports as the chosen career for their child. As long as the child is passionate about the stream, parents are willing to go full steam on supporting the child. Once a chosen career is decided, children are coached on how to focus, cut out distractions and leave out all room for self-doubt. Go all out and make it work. This is the good news. The good news is that it is not only STEM but all kinds of skills that are valued in the world today.
The Bad news is that the world, 30 years from now, is not really going to appreciate anyone who is completely unidirectional focused. Anyone who simply sticks with their choices and is unwilling to change, adapt and evolve in the face of global change is likely going to drown in the sea of change flooding the world. One such change is the pandemic of Coronavirus. When the disease first started in Wuhan in December 2019, the Chinese Government, itself, tried to brush it aside not giving it the attention it needed. in January 2020, even when China, at large, was struggling with the epidemic, many countries refused to plan and prepare for it. Today, when more than 125,000 people have died of the virus, world over, millions of citizens are still not ready to take ownership and do their part in managing the spread of the virus. These people simply refuse to accept the facts unraveling in the world today. They simply deny the reality, hoping that the reality will change if more and more people deny it. The biggest threat that the world is facing today is not the virus infection or food shortage or world war III. The biggest threat to the world today, is the mindset of people who simply refuse to see facts, connect dots, use real-time logic and plan for their future.
Let’s face it. As the virus spread through the world in February 2020, how many of us ever prepared or even imagined a possibility that the world would come to a standstill because of this virus infection? How many of us quickly adapted to the Lockdown and treated it as an opportunity to do many different things that we could never possibly do? How many of us are, even now, looking ahead and planning on how we can make the coming months most enriching if the lockdown continues for the next few months? Are we planning ahead for the best case and the worst case scenario or are we simply waiting for things to happen, so we can then curse someone/something for the situation before we slowly and painfully adapt.
Most of us, watch the news of yesterday to plan our day today or at max the days till the end of the lockdown (as of now till end of May 3rd in India). Do we plan for alternate possibilities that can happen? What if the lockdown extends for 3 more months? What if the lockdown ends on April 20th in your region? What would you do? Lets take the optimistic scenario that the lockdown ends sooner in your area. That means you have only 5 days left for this lockdown opportunity. How can you make the most of it, before your kids start their school and you have to go back to your rush hour travel routines? Again, most of us have not planned for it, because we do not think of lockdown as an opportunity. We only look at it as a problem and we want it to be over, asap. What if, as children, we were taught that every situation is an opportunity and we should plan for it and make the most of it? What if, we grab the lockdown days as the once in a lifetime opportunity to learn new things, connect with our family, experiment with ideas, or if nothing else catch up on the much needed sleep and rest. What if we celebrate the lockdown and thank God for keeping us safe and helping us slow down in life?
The lockdown is going to change the way the world lives, educates, travels and works. Have you thought about the changes in the psychology of people and the way businesses are going to be run in the coming days/years? How are these changes going to impact your job, your business, your children’s education or their future careers? If you do not plan for these changes, these changes will pose as threats. If you can foresee these changes, the same threats will become a big opportunity. That is the only simple difference between a threat and an opportunity – the level of preparedness on our part.
This is a long blog. But if you have reached till here, it means that somewhere you too feel that we, as individuals, are not skilled to leverage each situation as an opportunity. This is simply because most of us were not trained to look for alternate futures. We were told to study Maths and Science and do well in Engineering Jobs. We were not encouraged to ask questions, raise doubts or worst, question that there could be an alternate future which maybe did not need as many engineers. Honestly speaking, I think this kind of education did work well for our generation. It helped us study hard and land into more or less secure, predictable jobs. But sadly, what worked in the past will not work into the future, simply because the future is much different from the past.
The current Pandemic is just one example of the sweeping changes that the world is going to see in the coming years. I am not saying, that there will be many more health pandemic like this, but there will surely be information pandemics, technology pandemics and even cultural pandemics. Our children will be, or rather are already living under times which are changing so fast. Our children will not have the luxury to only focus on one skill and hold on to it with dear life for the rest of their life. They will need to be aware of the changes happening in the world and be able to connect the dots, predict the future without reasonable doubt and be willing to quickly adapt and change in case their predictions go wrong. For me, that is the most important skill that we need to prepare our children for.
How do we prepare our children to see the dots and connect them? The answer is very simple – by seeing the dots and connecting them. Help your child to observe and relate to the life happening all around them. Observe the ants moving. Observe the clothes churning in the washing machine. Observe the stars, the land, the water, the food, the news, the virus spread, the American job market, the medical and health systems, etc. etc. Talk about the what if connections. Predict what would happen next. Check if your predictions were right. Reiterate on your theory. Be happy to be proven wrong. Learn along the way. The key is to acknowledge that we do not have all the answers. That we will be wrong, we will fail. The joy is in the learning, the discovery of opportunity and the repeated failure. The joy is in celebrating the failure and using it to pave way for the success. For me, these are the most important skills to impart to our child. If they are capable of doing this, they will be capable of doing whatever they set their eyes on in the future.
If you still consider this pandemic as a threat, I leave that decision to you. Of course, it has caused a lot of changes in the world today, but changes lead to opportunities. The choice is ours to see.