I’ve been bothered in recent days. And it’s all to do with understanding people. We’ve just made life so complicated. In days of yore, it was the religious leaders, philosophers, writers, or the national leaders who did the thinking for us. That’s what they did. They would sit there and think and debate and discuss and get emotional and put pen to paper or stand on a soap box of sorts. It worked in the main, and the message went out there to the masses in the form of Chinese whispers.
Then, gradually, life started to become interestingly complex. A breed of people called psychologists were coming out from their closed doors and writing journals and papers and books about their insights into the human condition. They were becoming highly sought after by high officials and sent off to inform how to break the other side. Weird and wonderful experiments were carried out, and today we can reflect on them and either be amazed at the results or astonished at the practice undertaken.
As businesses grew and became more powerful institutions, CEOs and the likes suddenly started gaining a sense of authority and praise. PR and Marketers and book publishers started telling them that their words could earn them money. And so they wrote. Every one of them. Every year. Every industry. Every sector. And they were paid to speak too, in front of hundreds and thousands.
This took the inevitable turn to business thinkers and us professionals adding more to the mix. We were studying business from the inside and had awareness of culture, of interventions, of theories, of models and personality tools. These gave us power and authority. The successful salesperson, the wealthy banker, the high flying politician, and many others decided to write their words of wisdom too.
Which brings us to today where there is now so much information available that you look a fool if you haven’t read the latest thinking, or know the latest leader to follow, or bought the new business book. So varied and so vast is the knowledge landscape now that it’s hard to know where to start and which topic is the one for you to begin your journey. In fact, so cumbersome is the new world of thinking that we now rely on sole individuals to coach us to better solutions.
I am at the same time in awe of what is out there, and all the insight it offers us, and troubled at the same. I look at my role in L&D and see that I am in a stronger position to be more influential in my job role today than at any time in the history of the profession. But so much of that is down to the motivation of the L&Der to be knowledgeable. Where I am an advocate of continually being aware of the latest development, and the latest theory, and what applicability there is to working life, I am cautious not to burden myself with so much.
And through it all I cast my mind to the people at work getting on and doing their job. What do they care about? What do they need to know? Will this model actually help them? Will that theory actaully five them insight? Will this personality test raise their self awareness? Will this action plan make a positive difference in their life? I’d like to answer yes, and I’m sure there is a appropriateness to all of that.
But maybe it’s just about getting people to talk. Maybe it’s about the basics. Be courteous. Be respectful. Be inquisitive. Be inclusive. Support development. Give feedback. Listen. Coach others. Be mindful of both your actions and others’. Be healthy. Gain balance. And there’s no neat model, theory or personality tool that gives you all of that in one neat one hour session. Except life itself.