There’s the good and the bad of having so much knowledge at our fingertips, literally. It’s easy to “Google” the answer to any question.
Knowledge is no longer held in the hands of a few. But, do we know what to do with the answers? How do we make good decisions in the workplace? How do we teach young workers how to ask the right questions and older workers to look for new answers?
The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’ Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
Also, knowledge and self-awareness that comes from within can guide us to make the right decisions. We can think the answers come externally but if we ask ourselves the right questions, we can pull out the answers. As an example, Greg McKeown, a leadership expert, recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review that the path to being happy and choosing the right career can actually come from looking at our past.
McKeown suggests we draw a map of our career starting from our earliest job to the present. Think back on when you had a peak experience or a project you loved. What was it that you loved about that project or job? What theme do you keep coming back that makes you happy? Why was the work meaningful?
You’ll notice that your map will have its peaks and valleys, making the peak times stand out. What is similar about your peak times? Also, just by drawing this, you’ll trigger a different part of your brain and hopefully come up with a fresh or different idea than you would if you were to type or write down your thoughts.
This can be a handy tool to use as a manager when you’re coaching an employee to tap into his or her motivation, to find the gem in a tough work assignment or project. That knowledge of what jazzes us helps with a whole host of issues: attitude, team building and commitment.
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