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The necessity of lifelong learning

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The View From Taft

TWO Thousand Eighteen, how shall I describe you? Any reflective adult would probably say, as each year of their adult life draws to an end, that it was indeed “the best of times, the worst of times.” This year closes with no difference. It has been both good and challenging.

Every challenging period in one’s life demands a revisiting of the models by which we cope and operate. On a personal level, it could mean looking at one’s life plan relative to one’s priorities and goals. Take, for example, one 20-year-old male belonging to Generation Z for whom money and financial security was so much of an immediate goal (and given this person’s unique situation, arguably rightfully so) that he quit school in order to work.

It sounded good until he encountered the typical challenges of a sales job: high levels of mobility and social interaction, having to think on his toes in front of clients, the preparation and submission of reports even after work hours, and the sheer demand of increasing the number of prospects in order to increase the chances of closing more deals. Suddenly, the kind of life he was so used to — his program of appropriating a huge amount of time for church service, personal recreation, and friendly socializations — could not hold. Yet, this had always been his program for happiness, and it was no longer working for him.

On a professional level, it could mean looking at one’s job-related skills and competencies relative to the current business and corporate environment. One 50-ish female senior executive found herself leading a bunch of late Millennials and early-Generation Z supervisors and staff who, while passionate about their work and careers, have different skills sets, priorities, and sources of motivation from her. This younger generation is not motivated by career growth in the traditional sense (i.e., staying with a company for a long time and rising through the ranks). Rather, they are more interested in growing their skills and knowledge, building connections and networks, all the while maintaining an acceptable level of “work-life balance” or “work-life integration” where all elements seamlessly and joyfully meet.

Coming from a generation where hard work is equivalent to time spent (with a premium on unpaid hours clocked in as “malasakit”), where absolute obedience is expected when executing orders, where loyalty to the company and its owner override all other loyalties, and where public displays of anger and frustration were — in some milieus of the 1980s and 1990s — tolerated (if not accepted), this female senior executive found herself unable to get the results she wanted. Her style, while effective in her heyday, was no longer effective today.

While it would be easy — almost a cop-out — to say “it worked for me then, it should work today,” it might actually be unwise. Why? Because this new mindset, this new worldview is bound to stay a little longer than we would want.




On an entrepreneurial level, it could mean revisiting the new context for business and making the necessary adjustments. One male entrepreneur in his early 60s continues to think that the same laws and practices that were tolerated in the 1980s through the 1990s are still tolerated today. But the regulatory frameworks have changed. On employment, environment, taxation, and cultural trends alone, the changes are huge. Now, factor in the pressures of regional trade integration and globalization, and the competitive pressures are magnified.

Two Thousand Eighteen is just another year, like any year: it was difficult. But the difficulty, I suspect, was partly caused by our unwillingness, to a greater or lesser degree, to change, our paradigms of the world, learn new things, and acquire new skills and competencies. The change could demand that our businesses review its business model, for example, and learn to embed social and environmental standards and mechanisms, not as token philanthropic projects, but as part of business operations, in a world that is increasingly becoming mindful.

The change could demand that we continuously study and adopt management philosophies and styles that are more multistream (i.e., one that considers multiple forms of well-being for multiple stakeholders), and not just ones that are profit- or goal- (or worse, self-) oriented. The change could mean crafting a new life plan that reflects every priority area in our lives. All these in order to, at the very least, survive.

May 2019 be a time for new learning, and, beyond a life of survival, be a year of flourishing! Happy New Year!

 

Denver Bingski D. Daradar is an assistant professorial lecturer of the Management and Organization Department, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University.

denver.daradar@dlsu.edu.ph

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