Given the myriad complexities and ever-increasing expectations associated with urban living, it is fair to say that we live in challenging times.
According to the widely acclaimed Study “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?” conducted at the Oxford University and published on September 17, 2013, about 47% of the total US employment is at risk of computerization over the next two decades. And, this phenomenon will be global.
While in the previous centuries too an average individual may have struggled to lead a good, successful and respectful life, their hardships were of a different kind. Over the years, an explosion in the population, a decline in the mortality rate and the advancement of medical science and facilities, has, albeit the advantages, put a severe pressure on the resources; causing a surge in the level of competition, and in turn an increase in levels of expectations, as well as, stress.
Gone are the days when education was reserved for, and opportunities flowed to, just a handful of the section of society. With the advent of ‘the age of the internet’, ‘information’ and ‘knowledge’ is available to anybody who cares to benefit from such learning. In the years to come (if not already) access by a majority of the population to better schools, universities and to resources of learning, cannot be gainsaid. Hence, whether we choose to accept it or not, but sooner than later, if not already, the age-old methods of tutoring, instructing and learning will fast lose their significance, and the educational arena of the future will definitely be more competitive, offering a more level playing field to more and more people.
Adding to this component of ‘competition’ from fellow human beings, are the challenges associated with the continuous sophistication and reach of technology. Ergo, the power-play that we are essentially preparing to witness is not just between individuals, but equally between individuals and machines.
That said, competition, per se, be it from individuals or technology, is not unhealthy. In fact, in its healthy state, it is rather desirable because it usually runs as a precursor to efficiency, innovation and continuous regeneration. However, in its negative form, ‘competition’ or ‘competitive pressures’ in our lives can unleash a great deal of misery and stress not only in the professional quests, but in personal, psychological, emotional and physical aspects too; often manifesting as diseases, anxieties, depression and psychological and behavioral disorders.
Against the understanding of these, and many more of such Life’s challenges and impediments that possibly lie ahead of us, our role in raising our children is to essentially prepare them to acknowledge, accept and transcend beyond them, by guiding them to discover their inherent peace-loving, compassionate, strong and balanced characters.
In this pursuit, my husband and I for one, have started out by recognizing that academic achievements, although important, constitute only a small part of a child’s education. In the world as we see it, many softer and finer skills define our value as an individual. Our personal net worth is a subtle combination of our general qualifications, inherent values, ethics and skills. Thus, the development of an overall, balanced personality, becomes of critical importance.
Personality is more than plain appearance. The American Psychological Association defines it as:
Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The study of personality focuses on two broad areas: One is understanding individual differences in particular personality characteristics, such as sociability or irritability. The other is understanding how the various parts of a person come together as a whole.
In today’s world, constant work on ‘personality development’ becomes imperative not just from the point of view of self-advancement, creating a niche or gaining an edge to differentiate oneself from the others, but from the very point of view of self-preservation and survival. For if our overall personality is weak or unable to cope with the pressures of life, it may succumb to despondency and disillusionment, even depression. On the other hand, cultivating a deep, balanced, innately strong personality can go a long way (as one of the many important factors) in enabling the individual to assimilate more positivity from life, give a lot more to society and be a guiding light on to itself in times of disappointments and distress.
So, the question that my husband, Shivam and I ask of ourselves is: how can we best engage our efforts to develop strong, positive and loving personalities in our children? The approach, in our understanding, is by cultivating and honing in our children from the very start, their Intelligence, Emotional, Spiritual and Physical Quotients.
This Pyramid, in fact, forms the basis of much university level teachings today, imparted to the highest order of MBA students as well as in Leadership training offered to Professionals and Executives.
In my successive articles, I hope to elaborate on each of these, perhaps by offering specific suggestions, on how we can incorporate them in our own lives, and in the lives of our children from an early age. For, my personal mantra for imparting any learning to our children remains: first self-teach, self-absorb and self-do; children pick up what they see. If we show our best selves, then in all probability, our children will reflect that!