Category Archives: Work & Employment

Value of lifelong learning stands out for Millennials

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, work/life balance and opportunities to progress are among leading factors (beyond pay and financial benefits) for evaluating job opportunities. Such factors signal an appreciation for lifelong learning within organizations that promote a collaborative work environment.

In fact, 76 percent of millennials prefer a more creative, inclusive culture rather than an authoritarian, rules-based work approach. Millennials globally reported greater work satisfaction that supported positive values, such as:

  • Open and flee-flowing communication;
  • Mutual support and tolerance; and a
  • Strong commitment to equality and inclusiveness.

Such emphasis on the organizational behavior of today’s work environment reinforces the essential value of lifelong learning.

Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University, cites this study by commenting that Millennials clearly understand the value of lifelong learning and its importance to acquiring new skills, staying ahead of market trends, even staving off “potential boredom” at work (“What to do when you’re bored with your job,” Fortune, April 2016).

The future value of lifelong learning has yet to be defined for the millennial generation. But a glimpse seems to reveal that entire work systems and organizations will have to change in order to accommodate the whole person.

Millennials are lifelong learners, who balance time, talent, and commitments and who work, not from a corner cubicle, but across a connected domain.



Most Americans considered Lifelong Learners

73% of adults consider themselves “lifelong learners” according to a recent Pew Research Center report on Lifelong Learning and Technology (March, 2016).

In America according to Pew, there are two types of lifelong learners: personal learners and professional learners.

Personal lifelong learners participate in activities that interest themselves including attending courses, workshops, and seminars for personal development.

Professional lifelong learners connect to opportunities for career advancement by taking courses for improving job skills and expertise.

This report also highlights a new and exciting trend in learning that will continue across generations. However, barriers to participating still persist related to educational level, household income, and technology access.

A looming question surrounding the emerging field of lifelong learning, is how can all people, despite academic, economic, or social status, actively learn at every stage of life?

Providers of learning must be prepared to offer courses and activities for more than personal and professional learners, and begin to shift Americans’ interests toward the lifelong betterment of communities, cities, and a larger “learnlong” society.


Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Today, I started an online course called Critical Thinking in Global Challenges taught by Professors Mayank Dutia and Celine Caquineau from the University of Edinburgh. I have always been curious and eager to learn about how to develop critical thinking in young adults and leaders. After listening to the lectures and going through the assigned homeworks, I find myself reflecting on recent events where critical thinking have been necessary. In this highly complex times we live in, critical thinking “is the ability to gather and assess information in a logical, balanced, and reflective way, to be able to reach conclusion that are justified by reasonable argument”. 

As a young parent, I try to be reflective and open about different situations and experiences particularly those that involve childrearing, and other new “exciting” (a.k.a. scary/outside my comfort zone) experiences like transitioning from daycare to preschool, going on playdates, what sport/instrument to introduce first, etc. What does critical thinking have to do with that…you may wonder. I think any issue that tugs into our emotional heartstrings requires us to pause, reflect and critically think and parenting is definitely high on the list. To avoid going too quickly up the Ladder of Inference, or jump to conclusions, we need to think through and understand the issues we are faced with in a logical and rational manner despite situations that are deeply personal.

We live in a very fast paced and information-laden world, where our needs, wants and desires have changed at a colossal speed. At the same time, we are facing some of the greatest global challenges like climate change, public health, global peace and order, sustainable energy, and socioeconomic gap to name a few. Like parenting, being an educator requires one to practice critical thinking skills inside and outside the confines of what know and are comfortable to be “true”. How can we teach and foster these skills in our homes, in our classrooms and in our workplaces? How do we develop individuals to become reflective and critical thinkers and practitioners? I hope that by the conclusion of this class, I would have learned ways to better reflect on my own opinions, test assumptions, identify premises and reasoning, build more solid arguments and formulate better conclusions.

Coaching with Compassion vs. Coaching for Compliance

Week 5 talks about coaching with compassion (CWC) in contrast to coaching for compliance. In coaching for compassion, we move a person into Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) by initiating dialogues about hope, compassion, mindfulness, or even playfulness. On the other hand, coaching for compliance is consciously or unconsciously leading someone over to Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA) and this occurs when we tell someone what to do, how to do things, and how to feel. In short, coaching for compliance begins with the assumption that something is not right and therefore is in need of “fixing”. While the underlying intention is good, by asserting our view of how someone should act or how he or she should be pushes them towards NEA. And as soon as they go into the NEA mode, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is triggered and they become defensive and begin to shut down cognitively, perceptually and emotionally.

Interestingly enough, movement from PEA to NEA and vice-versa has been visually captured through fMRI scans. Dr. Boyatzis presented examples of how coaching with compassion (CWC) is key to leadership development and in creating resonant relationships. He described recent fMRI studies on coaching to the Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) versus the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA). For example, patients who experienced shared Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) with their physicians showed increased treatment adherence for Type II Diabetics. In family businesses, a shared vision is also seen as key to predicting long term success and the same is true for IT managers and professionals where arousal of PEA (shared vision and positive mood) predicts effectiveness. It is also interesting to note that, fMRI studies show spending even just 30 minutes in a conversation about the PEA (i.e. talking about one’s vision or dream), activates regions of the brain associated with the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which promotes renewal and relaxation.

In small manageable amount, stress is beneficial to us because it can help us overcome daily challenges by giving us little boosts of energy and memory; it keeps us motivated and helps us accomplish tasks; physiologically, it can help protect our bodies from infection, and it is critical in arousing the fight-or-flight response necessary for survival. While we need a healthy dose of stress, modern life has afforded us more way more stress than necessary and we find ourselves overwhelmed which leads us to experiencing cognitive, emotional, perceptual and even physical impairment. The key then is for us to balance PEA and NEA in order to “survive and thrive”.

After learning the difference between coaching with compassion and coaching for compliance, I am struck at how much of the skills in CWC are transferrable in our daily lives, like a conversation to motivate someone to learn and change, or to get someone to do something or to influence another person’s thinking or action. In parenting for example, I tend to focus on the problem (i.e. Who made a mess? Why are all these books on the floor?) and less on the process (i.e. Where you playing with the toy house, cars, stuffed animals all the same time? Are you imagining that this is your castle?). Perhaps this is a ripe area where I can tap on the wisdom of CWC and motivate my kids towards PEA and then to a positive desirable behavior (i.e. cleaning up their toys). In coaching relationships, I could see CWC being used as a way to encourage reflection of how they envision their future career, rather than getting seeped into long discussions about one’s discontent and unhappiness in their jobs and trying to problem solve. I think the shift from the need to step in and resolve things to focusing on the process and the person is an important cognitive and emotional exercise particularly when our default seems to be “the fixer”.

Key People Who Inspire You

Thank you to our brothers and sisters worldwide for reaching out and helping us in times of great need. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Thank you to our brothers and sisters worldwide for reaching out and helping us in times of great need. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Writing this week’s blog has been more emotional than before. Having witnessed the effects of the super typhoon Haiyan on my native land, the Philippines, brought forth so much emotions- sadness and empathy for the survivors, grief for parents carrying their lifeless child as they walk across debris, anger for the politicking that is going on instead of focusing on relief efforts, but mostly deeply inspired by the millions of unknown brothers and sisters worldwide who came together to help assist the Filipinos in this time of great need and challenge.

When I think about this week’s module of key people who inspire me, I think of people like the heroes I’ve mentioned earlier. Each individual put in their time, resources and energy into rebuilding our nation. In their own big and small ways, they inspired me to be a better person and I experienced what Dr. Boyatzis called renewal. For me, it is a feeling of intense emotional rejuvenation. I think in our stress-laden lives, we need moments of renewal to remind us to be mindful and thankful of what we have, renewal to allow our hearts to let go of past hurts and pains, renewal to remind ourselves that we are resilient and renewal to have the power to rebuild and forge ahead stronger than ever.

How about you? Who are the key people in your lives who have inspired you? What have they done for you and what lessons did they leave you? Either it is a word of encouragement, an unexpected helping hand, a pat on the back, a shoulder to lean on, a kind nonjudgmental ear, that person/s has given us a vision of what we want to be in the future. How powerful is that! Talk about transformational learning, borrowing Jack Mezirow’s term. Or Complexity Theory according to Boyatzis, and this occurs when a person’s thoughts, actions and behaviors change in a sustainable nonlinear way. This change is incremental- some days we change a bit, some days we don’t change at all and some days we revert back to our old ways. But Boyatzis in his research contended that there are five patterns present when people sustainably change. The first step is called the ideal self, and this is a self-reflective discovery, a glimmer of our desired self, of who we want and envision ourselves to be. The second step is the real self, where we obtain feedback from others about how we show up and we consciously compare that data with our ideal self, something like a personal balance sheet. The third step is exploring a learning agenda by committing to some personal changes or maintenance of positive actions, thoughts and behaviors. Note that this is not a performance improvement plan, but more like a mental action check list. Now that we have this mental list, the fourth step is to actually practice, experiment and see how these changes are received and perceived by people around us. Finally, through a consistent stream of reflection and change, we begin to establish trusting and resonant relationships.

As I look at the photos and videos of towns in the central part of the Philippines  reduced to rubble caused by the super typhoon, the rising death toll each day, the tears streaming down the survivors faces, I feel immense grief and feelings of helplessness but at the same time, I am deeply hopeful and inspired by the spirit and will of the survivors to rise above this tragedy and the generous individuals and organizations who donated money and gave up their holiday parties so money can go toward the relief fund; selfless volunteers who sent and packaged hundreds and thousands of relief goods everyday, and kind souls who organized hot meals, temporary tents and transportation for the displaced victims. This week alone, I feel humanity come alive more so than ever. Seeing my fellowmen suffer so much desolation, I have witnessed how the world came together to reach out and pull our country out of this time of desperate need. My cup overflows. I am deeply grateful and thankful and inspired. Thank you to the people who helped the Philippines and who inspired me in your own ways to change the world, one nation, one person at a time.