Do you feel it?  Do you sense it?  Do you see it?  There is a paradigm shift of great proportion occurring in our society, the world.  Sound research over the years has led us to better information about parenting, propelling us – finally – out of the “behaviorist era”.  We are discovering that behaviorism is unsuitable, in and of itself, to bestowing on our children the hopes and dreams we have always wished for them – self-worth and self-esteem, an innate sense of direction, loving values.

So, the dawn of the “Millennials” feels disturbing.  It is my observation that “Millennials” represent the extreme pendulum swing encountered in rebellion of out dated tradition and action, though this is the beginning.  As these “Millennials” enter our workforce, they do not respond to the behaviorist ideals of management traditionally effective with a population raised in this way.  We are left feeling uneasy, disturbed, fearful even.  Add to the “Millennials” the general “enlightenment” of the older workforce.  We no longer want our buttons pushed.  We want something to believe in.  Many of those values we held dear as children – because we never lose our life’s essence so evident in childhood – of fairness, of individuality, of self-directed fulfillment, of choice – play out throughout our years, no matter how hard we try to continue “parenting them out”.

“Be efficient with things; be effective with people.”  Popular quote, bound to become even more so, as it reveals everything about this paradigm shift we are experiencing.  To be the most effective in a global economy, we need to take the time and effort necessary to create the awareness and relationship skills required to support successful individuals to be successful teams to be successful organizations, to be a successful market… to be a successful society.   There is something to everything.  There is value to everything under the sun and moon, though no one thing has the market cornered.  Funny though, how it seems to be our human nature to constantly seek that “one thing”.  Ok, so there is “one thing”, but it is not at the level we wish to find it.  It is a global thing, not a detail.

There is enough awareness that the fulcrum is tipping away from the effectiveness of fear mongering, a fundamental aspect of the “behaviorist era”.  Trust, work/life integration, nurturing of our strengths, synergistic teams are future themes of the human asset equation.  They will prove most effective, and they will mean us taking the time.  Truly, if we have efficient process and system tools in place, the time is there.  We just need to consciously make the distinction to focus on educating and elevating the human spirit, and success will come, in more forms than currency.

Give someone a hug, it is so much more than a handshake…

~ Jacqueline

A former colleague shared on Facebook recently an article that seemed to defend the humanities ( http://chronicle.com/article/Beyond-Critical-Thinking/63288/) while challenging the fact that critical-thinking has become erroneously defined as singularly critical.  Then, I attended a symposium and ended up talking with the admirable presenter, an educator, and for all the intelligent conversation we did have, one thing discussed with another colleague struck and disturbed me for which I did not have words to respond at the time. 

The long done erosion of fine arts in schools, what appears to be a need to defend the humanities curriculum in higher education, and then the promotion of competency based training… at the expense of liberal arts in higher education, leaves me fundamentally disturbed.  The comment that started this discussion that ended with this latter observation was “who has ever been asked to deconstruct Beowulf in an interview?”!!! I have to say I was astounded to hear this dialogue between my colleagues whom I admire as intelligent.

I’ll own the fact that I may be biased, having been educated in the arts.  I held concern early on how such an education would translate into the world of employment and was assured that the liberal arts breed true leadership.  They do this because they expose us to a broader purview and to activity that expands the capacity of the brain, that feeds creativity.

Is creativity not tantamount to innovation in the business world?  And I read all over, and truly believe, innovation to be a critical element to success in a global economy.  So why is it that we seem to want to undermine our capacity in this realm?  There is something to everything, so yes community colleges offering competency based education has a definite place, but could it be that through this under-exposure to the arts that we have undermined our societal capacity to conceptualize, think “out of the box”?  Are we now recognizing a need for that which we have bred out through the loss of arts based education?

Just because we do not understand a thing, because we can not recognize immediate value, is it of any less value.  Truly, there is something to everything; though no one thing is the end all, be all in itself.  I propose that under-exposure to the arts has created a kind of prejudice, one that devalues diversity of thinking.  We see it in communication training where the art of conversation has been usurped by one’s ability to form a sound bite that has any chance of being heard.  Our capacity to listen, to hear, to just appreciate something for what it is, to reflect, to share in-depth, to take… time…  Are we literally breeding this out ourselves as a society?  Have we become the society of the “quick fix”?

I witness this in a focus on short-term and short-sighted problem solving, in a reluctance to invest in potential for the long-term, in our need for “specialists” who can fill an immediate skill requirement with no regard to satisfying our human craving for growth.  Technology could allow us more time to spend on one another as humans, but instead it has fed a desire for even we humans to produce better and faster.  Are we set to dehumanize our selves?  Turn ourselves into the robots we seek to create from technology?  Is that it?  In order to create robots in our own image, must we first reduce ourselves to becoming the robots we seek to create?

Take… time… and give someone a hug.  It is so much more than a handshake.

~ Jacqueline

I recently finished reading Marcus Buckingham’s latest success, Find Your Strongest Life.  Ever since I was introduced to his perspective on Strengths when he was with the team at Gallup, I have been absolutely sold on the concept.  Check it out.

That being said, I waited until I’d finished the book because an alternative perspective occured to me early on based on research points he shared in deriving his own material.  I wanted to see whether he happened upon it at some point in the book, which he did not, so here I am.

The research points Marcus reported that had an impact on my thought process were as follows:

  • As a result of having better education, better jobs, and better pay, women today are [not] happier and more fulfilled than [we] were forty years ago.  In fact, surveys of more than 1.3 million men and women reveal that women today are less happy relative to where [we] were forty years ago, and relative to men.
  • Most men (and women for that matter) [actually do not] think that men should be the primary breadwinner and women…the primary caretake of home and family.  In fact, opinion of which roles are most appropriate for men and women to play is not now determined by…sex.
  • Women would [not] prefer to work for other women.  Almost twice as many women want to work for men rather than women; 40 percent compared to 26 percent, with the remainder saying they wouldn’t care one way or the other.

In addition to these, I take into consideration these other observations:

  • In matriarchal societies and in current diversity studies, women are typically seen to tend toward collaboration and an equality of power vs men who tend toward hierarchy and a structured allocation of power.  This is well illustrated where men will typically set up a room for a meeting with a head table vs. women who will typically set up a meeting room “in the round”.
  • Our business practices coming out of the industrial age are highly influenced by what worked for those coming out of the military and starting businesses, which was a considerably great majority of men returning from two major wars occuring within decades of each other.  Quite simply, what resulted is a hierarchical structure to ensure compliance to the goals and tasks at hand.

I do not discount Marcus’ conclusion that women are overwhelmed with choices in life, more to juggle and balance, as this is my experience.  It just also occurs to me how we, as women, with a generally different way of working, in our quest for equality, have been molding ourselves into a primarily male construct, as it were.  Not that this is right or wrong, mind you, it just is what it is.  I submit that our choice to plug in to something less natural for us has left us, generally speaking, much less than satisfied even though our quest for freedom to contribute to society is being addressed.  This likely explains why so many businesses are being started by women in our more current day and age as a way to more freely do as we do.

I like to believe that now that women are in the workforce in force, we are having an affect on the overall construct of the workplace and how we do business in general.  It is my belief that by businesses actively appreciating what women and myriad points of our diverse population bring, will our US of A meet with true success in leading the global economy.