Choose Your Own Adventure

By our Education and Talent Lead, Margo Purcell (November 2020)

Remember those books? We need to add the same sense of adventure to learning and education.

We ask students to pick a career with little to no understanding of what a career can be, what opportunities are out there and the multitude of pathways to get there. Most glaringly, we ask them to do it with a key missing ingredient – self-knowledge.

I am not saying that there is no career or academic guidance. I am saying that with the best of intentions, what we have falls short of what is needed in our increasingly uncertain and interconnected world.

How do we know this? Having worked with people at every age and stage of career, so many continue to ask “Is this it? Is this what I’m really meant to do?” And while I wish I could tell you this is a local problem, having engaged with learners and employees from countries all over the world, this is a shared global experience.

We consistently tell people to look outside of themselves to find a career often based on external factors like job prospects, salary expectations, employment trends and the list goes on. These all need to be considered, however the job market is evolving so quickly that making career and educational choices based only on those factors is just as risky as ignoring them all together. Adding to that, people who are in a career mismatch tend to have lower satisfaction, productivity and performance.

Plus, there is the additional human cost of disengagement, lack of purpose and meaning. A key factor in human health and wellness is meaningful work and meaningful life. This does not tend to come with doing only what we’re “supposed” to do.

Imagine if we started our educational pathways by building the Essential Competencies with learning how to learn at the core. Imagine diving deeply into Critical, Creative, Systems and Computational Thinking. Imagine deep career exploration that has self-knowledge at its foundation where learners take a whole person and whole life perspective. Imagine that learners can clearly articulate for themselves and others what is involved for them to do work that is rewarding and fulfilling and only from there do they choose fields of study and endeavour. Imagine they then shape their own curriculum for their learning and resulting pursuits to be equally as meaningful and purposeful.

It is possible.

There are organizations like InceptionU doing this now, creating, testing and iterating new ways of developing people and their talents. The African Leadership University has all students take Leadership Core as their first year and then choose a Mission (not a Major).

Looking back on your own education and career experience, where might a deeper level of self awareness have helped you make better decisions that aligned more closely with who you wanted to be?

We can shape the future and fill these gaps for this generation and the next.

There are pockets of us all over the world working towards the same aim. We would love to know you. Reach out. The need is far greater than any one organization can meet.

And if learning this way lights you up, if you want to learn more about yourself and build pathways to your future, we want to hear from you.

Our global challenges need people and organizations to shift from doing what they are SUPPOSED to do and instead be doing (and be competent at) what they are MEANT to do. Let’s get to know each other, learn about what we are all doing, create ways to amplify each other’s work and have collective, positive impact. We’re building what’s next and invite you to join us.