Wednesday, August 25, 2010

never too young to be wise

I have had the extraordinary pleasure and privilege of presenting over the past three years to an amazing cohort of engineering students at Monash University in communication skills and change management. I have reminded them at times that our mindsets are closer than they might first imagine as I am a Gen X trapped in a baby boomer body!

The final year students concluded their last module with me (and the program) this evening. Several of the themes I felt so passionate about reinforcing through the program were the fine yet important line between self belief and arrogance, the importance of balancing the imperatives of relationships with outcomes and the irony of possessing serious intelligence coupled with the silliness of thinking we might ever have all the answers to all the challenges that life throws up at us.

One delightful student came up at the end, thanked me for my contribution to the program and admitted he found since he had left school he had struggled quite a lot with criticism. When we explored that a bit further he said directly but not conceitedly that he had not ever really had much experience of failure. Considering the vast majority of students invited onto that program had ENTER scores of 98 and above, it would not have been hard to imagine he was both very bright and knew the meaning of hard work. He left resolving to be more open to feedback and to vow to try not to take the criticism he knew would inevitably come his way, quite so personally and quite so often.

To me there is nothing more admirable than a passionate openness to learning and growth, particularly when it is so clear that the passion we are witnessing comes from a healthy place of wanting to be the best we can be, not the best in the group. How much energy can we all release if we focus our energies on being ourselves - only better rather than trying to look better than the person standing next to us? Not only does that frame sit beautifully with positive psychology but it is a substantial manifestation of a  generosity of spirit that could make the world my engineering student will lead in, a better one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Prime Time Masterchef and Prime (Time) Ministers

Yes, I confess to watching both the Masterchef Finale and the Gillard/Abbott debate Sunday night a week ago. If I hadn't I would have gone to bed feeling like a complete ignoramus with nothing to discuss with colleagues and clients the next day. Masterchef is truly an undeniable phenomenon and it has inspired one of my four children to share the load in the kitchen. Eventually she will realise that a small heavy based pan of perfectly caramelised pecans probably won't feed a family of six plus her boyfriend and older brother's girlfriend. 

I only have two misgivings about Masterchef. One is the poor modelling of healthy eating exhibited by Matt's growing number of chins throughout the series and two, that every other woman at our table at a function last night said they now felt socially anxious when inviting guests for dinner parties lest they not measure up culinarily.

I have decided one of the great ironies of life is that by the time we have really learnt to accept ourselves with all our jiggly bits, we really will be old, wrinkly and jiggly.

By the time we truly appreciate the extraordinary human beings we have raised when we're constantly told the Y's are selfish, demanding and fragile, they will have long since moved out.

And by the time I live up to the lofty standards created by the Masterchef magicians, I will have become thoroughly sick of cooking!

Let's give ourselves permission to be us ... only better!