When you were young what did you like to do?
When you were young, what did you like to do?
When I was young, I listened to the radio...
Waitin’ for my favorite songs
When they played I’d sing along...
It made me smile
Do you recognise the lyrics and tune of the song? Can you hear it in your head?
I grew up listening to that song by Karen Carpenter. Hearing the tune in my head now transported me back in time, when life was carefree and I was idealistic about the world.
To me that song symbolised the notion of idealism.
By the time I entered junior college, I still had the idealism in me. I still had strong sense of idealism in my thinking - the essays I wrote in school were about how I saw the world, what it could be, what I would do to help make it what it could be, that I would do things my way even if it is hard and it may take me longer. Then I went into university and my world changed...
I joined the engineering faculty and it was tough from day one. I feel the tremendous quantity of work, the long lecture and tutorial hours every week and felt worn out by the end of every week. There were many assignments and projects to be completed in tight deadlines. I felt rather overwhelmed. Despite this I persevered but you know what, I lost quite a bit of my idealism in university in that course that I undertook. Slowly but surely I began to adopt the engineering mindset - be practical, be efficient. I no longer could afford to do things my way or spend too much time reflecting and letting myself come to my own conclusion or solution because of the huge number of assignments and tight deadlines for them. Engineering trained me to be analytical and to be comfortable in analysing problems and issues and for that I am grateful.
Idealism is one of three qualities that is required of us if we are to focus on what matters. The other two is intimacy and depth (according to Peter Block, an author whose work I really enjoy reading because he asks the difficult questions that provokes deep and reflective thinking...)
Intimacy means personal interaction, face to face time, allowing people to people engagement. Technology increases our isolation yet at the same time promises to overcome it. Peter Block tells of the story of his mother where she used to keep the TV on all the time to try to overcome her loneliness. It didn't. It only made enough noise so that she did not have to really make contact with others who might have offered some genuine comfort.
Depth means going deeper to reflect, instead of going faster. The society now emphasises speed and rewards it. How fast can you go? How efficient can you be? We prefer actions and answers. You hear it all the time in the working place:
We want to have a bias for action
Talk is cheap. Action speaks louder than words
Those who can do, do. Those who can't teach*.
I'm not condemning the need to be efficient or the need to take action. Those are needed when it is time to act but before that, we should spend enough time thinking and reflecting before we take the leap. It is a balancing act and the balance is heavily tilted in favour of action in the prevailing culture. Not all things require the depth of reflection. Things that matter to us does. If we want to act on what matters to us, we need to shift our consciousness about pace. If we do not have time to do something, it is a sign that it does not matter. Values that we hold dear will wilt under the pressure of time. It is hard to imagine instant trust, instant justice, instant respect, instant high performing teams, instant reconciliation. If we yield to the temptation of speed, we short circuit our values. This leads to personal disappointment and loss of faith in our attempt to bring our strategies and models into the world...
What are your thoughts? Pls share your comments
* Nothing against teachers or educators - I am one myself :-) The opposing view to that phrase will be another hubpage entry. Stay tuned...
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