This post on lessons learnt was written by me about four years ago. I read this again in full yesterday after few years, and I got inspired myself from my own lessons.
Life sure moved on since then, but most of the lessons mentioned in the post are timeless.
We live in the age of social media where fake advice is all over the place. We are filled with baseless, useless, meatless, boneless arguments and advice each day over social media. The reality is, however, great insight takes time and take shape though painful gain.
In the quest to attract skills, talent, people and eventually profits, the human resource functions in organisations has turned into fake rewards, fake appreciations and fake entertainment. Yet, the productivity, efficiency, accountability remains a key challenge for most organisations. The reality is the shallow techniques are not working any more.
The young generation today are bombarded with information bites. I call them information bites, because, everything is short, sweet and meant for instant attention. Videos are 3 minutes, posts are twitter length, and article reading is an after thought. People do not even think of books. The problem with that is that the young people have lots of information points but not the insight.
Insight is essential for market leading work. Whatever the trade you are in, your insight matters. And the depth of your insight matters. The depth cannot be gained with a tweet text or a 3 minute watch.
For the past couple of years, I have been focusing on sharing my experiences with young generations though the people development and career coaching roles that I undertook. One of the key challenges I faced is that, people do not want to talk even if I make myself available. The second is that they hardly read. There are many excuses for not reading, but they are all "excuses".
I think writing is going to help these young people to help regain their self expression and self confidence. But to write, you got to have something to write about. And for your writing to be effective, you need to write at least 1500 to 2000 words.
Much of the social media engagements today is about writing. They are mostly passing remarks. Writing needs insights. You need to have something to say. You need to have facts, connect the facts, build the story and tell the story. That may sound like lots of work. But the exercise has many remedies to many of the challenges faced by the young generation today. One of the most beneficial would be the stress relief you gain from your writing. It is a great opportunity for yourself expression and you can make your voice heard.
You also need to get away from the dopamine effects associated with likes you get on social media. So, publish your writing but never worry about the reads you get. It is similar to meditation or mindfulness you do – you it within you and for yourself for your benefit. And if people see interest, it is a bonus.
When you keep writing, you will challenge your own insights. And then you need to turn into reading to deepen your insights. Reading and writing is a great self-development combo. And after some time when your read your own writing, if you yourself get inspired, then you have achieved something for yourself.
What do people want?
Having worked with over thousand people for the past couple of years on various people development activities, I have come to realize a few things on what people want these days. Some of the concerning observations are
- They want shortcuts
- Interested in quick, easy money
- Want the best devices, especially Apple products
- Want to watch, not read
- Want to know, but seem to know
These are not the only ones, but these are most common. The older generations would immediately question these with something like “Are you out of your mind?”. The reality is, the world has changed a lot in the past couple of decades and while these may look “traditionally concerning”, these are the new state of the art – or the new social normal.
For sustainable development, we need to formidably answer these kinds of questions that the young generation has.
The product and user experience designs today are full of shortcuts. We live in “instant” food, purchase, delivery era. So, what is wrong with wanting shortcuts? If you are to win in the market, being able to cater for shortcuts seems a good strategy. However, the realization of big picture needs to be brought to attention. And the other key word that needs attention is sustainability. Shortcuts are great, as long as you are focused on your big picture and sustainability spread though your lifetime.
Internet is filled with stories on easy and quick money. Modern day heroes are big money people, like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma. And we all want to get there faster. Yes, no one got there faster. But most surrounding advice is misleading. In fact, the big money people inspire the young to spend money on their products most of the time, hence the young needs quick money. The real issue here is not the focus on easy money or quick money. The real issue is the lack of understanding on what money really is. Money is a simple concept but a very tricky one, especially when combined with today’s marketing machinery. I think the best is for the young generation to spend a bit of time to understand money.
The interest on devices is prevalent and here to stay. Your device is the latest impression tool, not the car you own. And Apple seems to have won the minds. So much of computing power, image quality and screen resolution – for what? Well, “for what” question does not seem to make any sense for most of the young. The sense of urgency for quick and easy money is destined, in majority of the cases, for a great device. Here, for what is a nonsense question. The more meaningful question would be, how can this great device lead to quick and easy money? The device should not be the destination but be part of the journey.
The new generations are more into watching than reading. There could be books written on the benefits of reading, but no use if people do not want to read. The problem with watching is that the video is dictating the phase and there is no sync with your attention. On the other hand, reading is at your own phase and it is easier to pause and re-read. For stress relief, time-off and down time, reading is better medicine for your mind. And it gives more time for your mind to wonder off and have your own inspirations.
Information overload today leads us to many topics. You seem to know everything, because you might have seen something about that recently. But do you really know? Did you take time to dig deeper? You may know about it but, can you? The sentiment of “seem to know” is a symptom of information overdose. The remedy is to take time and apply the knowledge that you seem to have. When you try to apply then you will come to senses of what that know-how actually means. Sometimes, rather than wondering around with the sentiment of seem to know, you could undertake a fact-finding mission – it could be as simple as a google search and a few minutes of research on the topic. So, if you want to know something, do some research on the topic. That will help you expand your understanding on what you seem to know.
With my engagement with people, I have also learned that they are curious on the following topics. They seeking to grasp and get hold of these
- What skills matter the most?
- Career dilemmas – how am I doing and is it working for me?
- I have great ideas; how can I be heard?
- What to do when seniors do not make any sense?
- When should I move on?
I think it is great that some young people are asking these questions. Unfortunately, due to the focus on retention greed, often times, the HR function of many organizations are unable to address these questions with an open mind to satisfy people. On the other hand, people are reluctant to discuss most of these with seniors or HR due to the defensive nature of the HR function focused on retention. Hence, people turn into discussing within themselves. But they lack the insights and experiences required to make informed decisions. Ideally, we need to encourage young people to discuss these with independent parties that are focused on their benefit rather than those who are focused on organizational benefits. The best decisions are made on these matters on your own after seeking all advice. What is needed the most is to ensure that the advice is open and tuned to your interests with no strings attached to organizational interests.
If you are on the right path of career progression, you will have your own catalog of lessons learned built over time. That catalog will reflect on your own insight and experience.
I plan to discuss these topics further in future posts.