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Apr 21, 2008

Too young to think with your own head?

When is it too late to start practicing?

Just came from the kindergarten from a development talks. Parents are asked to come to the kindergarten once a year to talk about their children development.

So what would you expect this interview to focus on? The uniqueness of your child, how to help this unique creature in co-operation with kindergarten and parent to become a healthier and stronger person? Well, almost.

The real focus was the child weaknesses. Discussing what influence that approach has on the person self-esteem is a separate topic, what I wanted to discuss here was how the teachers are dealing with problems and how this can influence the latter pro-activity of the child.

The punishment commonly used in the kindergartens for misbehavior is to put children sitting in the "bad-child-chair" (or to separate him/her in some other way from others) and to repeat that until child quits the bad action. So the solution to deal with problems is to tell what is the correct way, then punish the ones who don't obey and praise the ones who do.

The problem with this approach is not only that it might be unfair (in case of many children you always don't see what is behind the fight and punish the wrong child), but it also places the responsibility on the teacher. Child doesn't have any other role than to fit in the world of rules - and try to be clever enough not the get caught when not fitting in. When caught - try to be even more cleverer so that it wouldn't happen again. It doesn't really make him understand the reasons and develop solutions.

In the world which is getting more and more complicated and it's hard even for grown ups to judge what is right and what is wrong, you most probably don't want to develop people who are always expecting someone else to know the answer. People who have learned to live in frameworks and do what is the right thing to do aren't too successful in a changing environment. But let's face it - the world changes quicker than the journalists can keep up and in the future we can expect things we don't even know how to get ready.

We need people who can evaluate the situation, analyze the options, choose the next step and then take responsibility of making that step. Yes, this ability has to come with the sense of community and understanding of collective knowledge, but it starts from every person taking individual responsibility.

Without justifying any of the problems - I truly think children should be encouraged to take responsibility over their action. Very often they already know what is right and what is wrong and also sense the feelings of others very well. So why not to ask them what do they think is the best solution for the problem?

The teacher told me: "I think it's too early to ask him his opinion." She believes more in telling and controlling. Well, I don't think it's ever too early to start supporting the simple ability to evaluate the situation and take responsibility.

With all the respect for the teacher - when is the right time to ask child's opinion? Or - when is it too late to start asking?

Any wonder most of the organizations are built on strict command lines. Any wonder people often find it hard to make decisions and that companies are head-hunting for people who are able to do so. Any wonder people are often hoping that someone else is responsible and therefor sit back and wait, getting bittered in the hope that things get will improve, but still not quite seeing that.

I believe we all need to trust our ability to make decisions and help others to do the same.

So - instead of telling the answer - ask. Ask your child what does he think is the best solution. Ask your team-member, co-worker, your partner, your friend. Make sure you listen as well. And then keep accountable.

Apr 10, 2008

What are you doing this summer?

Thought I post today something practical - why talk about philosophical things only, when the main joy in life comes through practice (and through practice comes philosophy:).

So here's a chance - making an adventure this summer, going away from Estonia for 2-3 months to work in a new country.

The program is easy - you apply, get selected and get a chance to choose an internship from different Central- and Eastern-Europe countries.

You arrive to a new country and culture (CEE region is rich of cultures - from Turkey and Balkans to other side of Russia), create a new network of friends, get new professional experiences and once you arrive back - see a world in a whole new way.

5 reasons to go abroad this summer vs staying in Estonia:

1. It's an adventure - want to live an exciting life? Make exciting things, go out of your box even if scared in the beginning

2. Develop yourself - it's not so easy to start your life all over in a new country, so you don't have any other chance then to become a more confident, capable and aware person once your out of your comfort zone

3. Get friends - some of my best friends are from CEE region, they are different, I love it (I love my Estonian friends too, anyway it's good from time to time be overwhelmed by kissing-hugging-smiling-sharing-people from South part of the region)! World is small, it's good to know people

4. Discover a new culture - people do things differently "out there", they understand world in a whole new way than you, they challenge you with their values, approaches and explanation of how things work. Getting to know it makes you see Estonia differently and bring some innovation back here

5. Make a next step in your professional career - university over or about to end? What next? I guess some reflection time while discovering new working styles and spending time out of the influences "back home" helps you to figure this out

So here's the idea - grab your chance before you get settled in an internship in Estonia you hope will help you in the future. Or get settled with a permanent job or a family or anything else that would keep you permanently here without finding out what COULD have been. 2-3 months of investment of your time to something that can influence you a lifetime is worth considering.

What next? Start by contacting Alisa - alisa.logofatu@aiesec.net (if you are already AIESEC member - contact her or your local VPX anyway to ask about your next steps). This girl is more than glad to help you with practical information and get together with people who help you to find yourself after a few months in the middle of Europe, in the beginning of a remarkable adventure and personal learning experience!

Check out the video about the program (originally from Czech Republic - thank you, guys, for sharing it!), deadline for Estonians to apply is 15th of May.

Apr 9, 2008

Busy in being not busy

I’m busy. In pasts months I’ve been travelling a lot, planning, thinking about my future, meeting people, designing processes, conferences, seminars, reading new books, visiting Local Committees, conversations, strategic meetings, taking time for Maru, catching up with my university, spending time with my team, hosting guests. It has been quite a journey.

I love it. Why? Because it makes sense. I’ve been busy doing the things I love and trying to reduce the things I’m not necessarily good at to minimum. And what I love is sometimes to say no to any obligation I have, just to sit back, relax, read a book, meet a friend, take a hot bath. I’m equally busy in learning to be not busy, which is an surprisingly challenging thing to do when 1) you are so used to run 2) everyone is expecting you to run 3) everyone else is running

What I’m saying is that being constantly busy makes you run. When you are running – you don’t have time to think. When you don’t think, you don’t see anymore where you are running.

Stop.

Take a moment to look around. Where are you going? What makes you busy? Where is your time going? What is your choice, what have you took randomly in your life because you didn’t have time to see the difference between important and non-important?

If you are too busy in being busy, you don’t have time for passion. You don’t understand anymore what is truly important. Everything becomes the same importance. You might run into an highly important and impactful event – and remain ignorant. Because you don’t have time to see the difference.

The less grounded the person is the more confusion he/she creates in the world. I see constantly how people run into me with their confusion, indecisvness. They are fighting for something without being convinced in themselevs that this is THEIR thing. They fight to fight, not because it’s important, but because making a stand is considered as a sign of strenght. Their opinions change, their causes change as the background – whatever it might be - changes. People without principles and goals create confusion.

So stop. What of this busyness is actually the confusion of other people? And what is the confusion of your own indecisiveness?

Being busy is not a bad thing. I love it...as long as I’m busy with something that really matters to me. For that I need to know first - what matters to me (easy:) and then – ignore the rest as much it’s possible. For sure it causes some negative opinions for the start as you are not meeting the expectations of the people who are used to that – but in the long run it makes it easier for everyone to communicte with you. And you are simply a more effective and happier person.

Be busy – but make sure you take enough time to know with WHAT and WHY.