Arrivals and Departures

I have been on a break and taking the time to examine the life I lead. Between quiet times, copious notes and filter coffee, unvarnished truths strut around. I hope to write and post some thoughts, ideas and “notes to myself” here. This post ‘Arrivals and departures’ is based on some notes I scribbled sitting at a roadside coffee shop.

Many moons ago, English August by Upmanyu Chatterjee gave me an unforgettable line. A line that I have used many times over now about arrivals and departures. It goes like this.

“The excitement of the arrival never compensates for the emptiness of the departure.”

Arrivals are filled with joy and celebration. A birth in the family. Joining a new organisation. Starting a new account. Buying a new car. Or a phone. Arrivals are joyous. Departures in contrast are quiet affairs. Sometimes, happening without a trace with a hint of “let’s get done with this quickly’. At other times, they are solemn. With a muffled tear, a hint of sadness or a full throated wail.

The ceremony of the arrival and departure obscures the time in between.

Arrivals and departures through the lens of learning and change

I view every new learning is an arrival of sorts. There is an aha moment and a flicker of bright lights. A new piece of information or skill brings a heightened moment of possibility filled emotion. There is a genuine happy emotion of discovery. An arrival that is filled with excitement.

But change is a different matter altogether. Change requires a ‘departure’ of a way of living or working or being. It requires a letting go for the letting in to happen. That is not an easy act. The excitement of picking up a new skill does not automatically translate to change happening. That is a long boring process by itself.

Every departure is its own arrival. And every arrival, a departure. To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction. To learn, in other words, is an act of deep work. If you’re comfortable going deep, you’ll not only win now, you will also develop the foundations for future victories.

If you instead remain one of the many who skim the surface, for whom depth is uncomfortable, life will be on the hamster wheel.

My current challenge levels at work have gotten me to stare at a new horizon. A horizon that spans newer geographies, greater scale and an incessant complexity that redraws the ‘Normal’. It’s a good problem to have for it reveals areas that I am out of depth in!

To discover new depths I have to depart from my old ways that have brought me success (and comfort). And for that, I have to depart from where I have been.

Arrivals and departures are inevitable part of our lives. When we live our lives consciously, we chart a plan to live by. In more than one way, it makes the journey worthwhile!

New Horizons & fresh hopes

So, 2015 rushes hurtles towards its end, with the unmistakable charm that every ‘end of a year’ proffers, I wonder what stood out for you. There is a bouquet of aspects that caught my attention. Here is one such.

The education system that Finland is putting in place is quite something indeed.  The fact that a successful and much acclaimed system like Finaland’s, is getting disrupted by themselves, even when its working so well, is something thats so obvious that it can be easily missed.  What wouldn’t get missed is the fundamental changes to the approach to education.  It spurs new hopes and joy.

Finland is moving out from a subject based education that we are all so very used to. Very soon, students will not have classes on ‘Physics’ ‘Geography’ and the like but more outcome based topics which will have elements from different subjects woven in ( For instance, as : ‘Automobile Maintenance’ Services could well be a topic with different subjects of physics, chemistry, maths etc woven in.  It readily appealed to me, for subjects arent taught in vacuum but with an application orientation.  They call it ‘Phenomenon based’. It will quite something when this catches on.

If this wasn’t big enough, the mode of teaching is changing as well.  The “One to Many” approach of a teacher standing up and lecturing is getting replaced with students huddling in groups and working out solutions.

It spurs new hopes for a variety of reasons. The chief amongst them : The fundamental changes that have taken place in the world around us, in terms of technology mainstreaming,  gets factored in here. A world where asymmetry in ‘information / knowledge’ is sliding down, seeks a new set of skills from students and teachers alike.  The changeover is going to be any easy, even if its going to be a progressive leader in education, like Finland.

The exam focused, soaking in and dumping of information in the guise of knowledge is surely past its prime. Its survival ( & thriving ) in large pockets is more a function of the momentum and success that it has brought us over several decades to generations of teachers and learners.

And finally, that hopefully should nudge corporate learning and development teams approach their work very differently.  The narrative is already beginning to shift with programs like this in our midst. We need more of these. More fundamentally, we need to think differently.

The times, they have changed and there is a new wind blowing. Its time to adjust our sails and catch early glimpses of the new horizon! The time to do that is now. Finland is showing how.