Tag Archives: emotional intelligence

Mindset matters

Just over a year ago now, I wrote about the vital importance of ‘metaskills’ as an (possibly even the most?) important avenue of intervention if we are to equip young people with the chops to succeed in an ever more complex and rapidly changing world.

A good place to start this post is exactly where I left off last time, with a thought-provoking extract from Marty Neumeier’s excellent book, Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age.

Today we find ourselves caught between two paradigms – the linear, reductionist past and the spiraling, multivalent future. The old world turned on the axis of knowledge and material goods. The new one will turn on the axis of creativity and social responsibility. To cross the gap we’ll need a generation of thinkers and makers who can reframe problems and design surprising, elegant solutions. We’ll need fearless, self-directed learners who embrace adventure. We’ll need teachers, mentors and leaders who understand that mind shaping is world shaping – who give learners the tools they’ll need to continually reinvent their minds in response to future challenges.

If you’re anything like me (and since you’ve found your way to this post, I’m guessing you are) you’ll be nodding in vigorous agreement with everything Marty says.

I mean, think about it…

Kids starting school in 2015 probably won’t retire until 2070. Our education systems are meant to be preparing them for this life ahead, yet we can’t even predict with certainty what the world will look like five years from now. The U.S. Department of Labor apparently estimates that 65% of children currently in grade school will end up in job functions that don’t even exist today. Meanwhile, research by the Oxford Martin School on the future of employment suggests that as many as 50% of current corporate occupations will disappear by 2025 as a result of computerization.

How on earth are we supposed to help our children prepare for, and succeed in, such an unpredictable world? For folks like Marty, education gurus like Sir Ken Robinson, and my friends at the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), the answer is as plain as day…

The secret has to lie in fostering agility, adaptability, and applied knowledge and imagination. That means helping young people to develop typically entrepreneurial skills and behaviours such as initiative and self-direction, communication and collaboration, and creativity and problem solving — fundamentally human characteristics that can help our kids to stay ahead of the ‘robot curve’ (as Marty puts it), to be able to adapt to constantly changing circumstances, to better recognise opportunities, and to remain confident and resilient in the face of challenges.

The teaching of these very sorts of skills and behaviours – fully integrated into the school curriculum – is one of the main reasons my wife and I chose our daughter’s school, and I’m constantly reminded of the difference it can make. Every year, I take part as a judge in the school’s Dragon’s Den-style event (Shark Tank in the US?), where girls as young as six pitch their innovative ideas for new products or services. They never cease to amaze me – not just with the quality of their ideas, but with their confidence, self-assurance and ability to think on their feet – and it seems so obvious that it’s this emotional intelligence, more than their recall of history or trigonometry or whatever, that will stand them in greatest stead in the future.

Cards on the table, this is a fee-paying school and I fully appreciate that these sorts of programs are a luxury not afforded to the vast majority of students. But then that’s precisely why I’m so excited by NFTE’s work on an Entrepreneurial Mindset Index – an emerging methodology for measuring and evaluating the presence of an entrepreneurial mindset among young people and, potentially, to influence policy in such a way that teaching it is given much greater prominence in all our schools.

I’m excited because, IMHO, learning about this stuff shouldn’t be the exclusive preserve of a privileged few. Mindset matters. It should be available to everyone.

If you’re interested in learning more, NFTE is hosting an Entrepreneurial Mindset Summit in New York on 27 October. Check it out.

Invictus: an ode to self-mastery

I first posted the following a couple of years ago now, but seemed fitting to repost in tribute to Nelson Mandela…

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Inspired by Geoff Barbaro‘s upcoming 55-minute guide to leadership communication, and by the fact that CommScrum‘s first birthday is just around the corner, I finally got around to watching Invictus last night.

It reminded me of the fact that, when I applied to Ashridge to do my MBA, one of the questions on the application form asked me to give an example of a leader I admired and why. I chose Nelson Mandela, citing (amongst other things) his appearance in a Springbok jersey at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, which I still consider to be one of the most iconic images of my lifetime, and the very embodiment of the spirit of reconciliation.

The movie portrays Mandela not only as an incredibly astute politician (his line about reinstating the Springbok name and colours being a human calculation speaks volumes), but also a man with extraordinary self-mastery. That, above all else, shines through as the foundation stone of his leadership.

His own inspiration – that which “helped [him] to stand when all [he] wanted to do was lie down” – was William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus.

Whilst it may not have the same impact as hearing it read in Morgan Freeman’s dulcet tones (his “caged bird” voiceover from The Shawshank Redemption still brings a lump to my throat every time I hear it), I reproduce it here in full.

Geoff revealed to me recently that he has a framed copy of Martin Luther King’s dream speech hanging on his wall at home. As someone who bangs on incessantly about authenticity, if I were to do something similar, I suspect this poem would be my choice. It’s theme of self-mastery as guide and compass through all manners of adversity, and the associated mental image I have of Mandela on the podium at Ellis Park Stadium, are powerful to say the least…

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Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus: an ode to self-mastery

Inspired by Geoff Barbaro‘s upcoming 55-minute guide to leadership communication, and by the fact that CommScrum‘s first birthday is just around the corner, I finally got around to watching Invictus last night.

It reminded me of the fact that, when I applied to Ashridge to do my MBA, one of the questions on the application form asked me to give an example of a leader I admired and why. I chose Nelson Mandela, citing (amongst other things) his appearance in a Springbok jersey at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, which I still consider to be one of the most iconic images of my lifetime, and the very embodiment of the spirit of reconciliation.

The movie portrays Mandela not only as an incredibly astute politician (his line about reinstating the Springbok name and colours being a human calculation speaks volumes), but also a man with extraordinary self-mastery. That, above all else, shines through as the foundation stone of his leadership.

His own inspiration – that which “helped [him] to stand when all [he] wanted to do was lie down” – was William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus.

Whilst it may not have the same impact as hearing it read in Morgan Freeman’s dulcet tones (his “caged bird” voiceover from The Shawshank Redemption still brings a lump to my throat every time I hear it), I reproduce it here in full.

Geoff revealed to me recently that he has a framed copy of Martin Luther King’s dream speech hanging on his wall at home. As someone who bangs on incessantly about authenticity, if I were to do something similar, I suspect this poem would be my choice. It’s theme of self-mastery as guide and compass through all manners of adversity, and the associated mental image I have of Mandela on the podium at Ellis Park Stadium, are powerful to say the least…

—————————–

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.