Life Skills for the 21st Century

After the US President Barack Obama’s visit to India, one thing that struck the entire world was to see the two world leaders Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise to power. Both these leaders had humble origins. Both have been elected to top most positions in their respective countries without having family wealth or family connections. What is it that they have which helped them rise in power?

The millennial kids are growing up in the era of technological revolution. Smart phones, cloud computing, blogging and other gadgets associated with this new revolution are well understood by this generation. Change is the only constant of today. So how do we equip our kids to this change? School education teaches up to a certain level. The degrees that we get at the end of our school and college do help in finding a job. But, there are certain skills that give us a cutting edge in securing the job. These skills are not taught in schools. However, success in life depends a lot on these life skills.

The first and foremost of the life skills which both Obama and Modi have demonstrated through their achievements is self-belief. “I can and I will” is the mantra for today. Parents today are very sensitive to their children’s needs. In our attempt to provide everything to our kids we are making them handicapped, unable to think for themselves. Self confidence cannot be taught. However, it can be attained with positive motivation. As parents it is our duty to guide our children in all their activities. We have to maintain that fine balance of praise and criticism in our judgement of any activity performed by our kids. We should not chide them for their work if it has not been performed successfully. Rather, we should encourage them to do it again. It would be incorrect on our part to complete that particular activity for our child which he has not executed well. For then we would be conveying the wrong message. The message conveyed in this case is: “My parents have the resources to help me. I do not need to put in an effort.” Help your children to handle their mistakes and failures in a better way.

The best way to do this is to guide them to “Defeat the defeatist tendency in their mind” and encourage them to accept their destiny. Then, show them your trust in their abilities and ask them to attempt the task again. At the end of each day discuss their day with them. Show interest and appreciation for the little things accomplished. As prescribed by Ken Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins and Jim Ballard in their book “Whale Done!” try to ‘catch them doing right things’ and praise them instantaneously rather than always catching them doing the wrong things. All these steps of positive motivation will go a long way in confidence building measures. A confident person is always kind towards other people and does not judge others harshly. Thus, confidence is the foremost of the life skills required for success in life.

The second skill to be mastered in life is communication skills. The ability to communicate effectively helps one in all spheres of life. Effective communication is one of the most important life skills, yet we do not put much effort in sharpening it. With the influx of the internet and Wi Fi connections communication has become faster and simpler. However, this has also led to deterioration of communication skills among the youth. The new interaction means have stripped the tree of communication of its rich quality of conversation, meaningful dialogues, authenticity and accuracy of ideas. Kids today prefer the world of social media from the real world. They are most happy texting messages to their friends rather than holding a meaningful conversation with each other. As conversations are losing touch of reality and human contact, communication is becoming artificial. This is the biggest drawback of electronic communication which we are now slowly realising. We need to wean out our youngsters from Google and teach them the art of face-to-face conversation.

The third most important skill to be mastered is Comprehension Skill. While it is natural for a bright student to be perfect in his three Rs that is reading, writing and arithmetic, today’s generation lacks the ability to comprehend. In order to understand the written text, it is best to read it slowly forming a picture of it in the mind. Though this skill is more tuned to the sphere of education, we can place it under life skills to be mastered for true comprehension is all about connecting to the text. Fluency in reading comes with practise. Students can memorise page after page of text without understanding it. However, if they do not have the necessary comprehension skills they will not be able to summarise the text effectively. Comprehension skills help in understanding and reacting to different situations in life. They help us to relate to real life incidences. If students are able to derive meaning from the written word, they will be able to develop intellectually, socially and emotionally. A person who can understand and analyse life events will always be good at decision making.

Thus, confidence, communication and comprehension, I believe are the three Cs of success. 21st century is riddled with its own set of problems and complexities which are unique to this century. Some of the common problems faced by children today include high expectations, more competition, higher level of frustration, excessive use of technology, over protection by parents, too many choices and too much information and lack of communication.

If our kids are equipped with life skills they can handle any problem or challenging situation. Life skills help in forming own identity and enhancing self-esteem. These skills help us to manage our environment more effectively and to accomplish our dreams and goals in life. After all, success comes naturally to people who are skillful enough to handle it.


More by :  Radha Joshi

Top | Perspective

Views: 3324      Comments: 3

Comment ''What is it that they have which helped them rise in power?''

Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi won the life''s lottery in their respective countries. How much of it one can emulate is open to question.

P. Rao
01-Feb-2015 20:33 PM

Comment The fundamental factor in the formation of a child''s character, and later, man''s development, is affection, commonly identified in a more emotive term, love, which for that reason is omitted from mention in any objective analysis such as you have undertaken. What Obama and Modi have in common is a huge affection for their subject, the life of the nation, such as been the main force to their ascent as leaders; but extraordinary, because, in accordance to the adage, ''cometh the hour, cometh the man'', they have the distinguishing pre-requisites. Affection is spontaneous, it cannot be forced; which is why youngsters, for example, are so grabbed by technology and smart electronic devices. Comprehension is clear in these areas of activity. Affection determines comprehension, as every identification is in appetitive affection related to one''s life, the affection to live. The recommending of what ''must'' be done is futile unless it can move the life affection for what it is to be done. Law defines what must be done, but affection determines what is done - in compliance or not. Gandhi, Mandella and all great leaders have this in common, an all-consuming affection that, in the context of the times, is experienced in the population as of the movement they are wedded to. and for which the former appear as born to lead, proving that affection for life as to principle is a providential power.

01-Feb-2015 16:41 PM

Comment I liked your article and congratulate you for writing it well and selecting an excellent topic--''success'' in the modern day. I will try to inject a few comments.

Mr. Modi grew up before even TV, forget face book I-phones etc, He never expected any thing or results of any kind but worked hard to serve others. That is the only good thing about him-- a desire and willingness to serve others--regardless of who he is.

Hard work regardless of so called status is essential hall mark of a successful person. Modi ji excelled in whatever he did -- selling tea in a filthy India railway coach --the filthiest place in the whole World -- but he kept on doing it with excellence. Still doing it in the filthiest place in India -- the Parliament --a different kind of filth.

I believe he did that because of total faith in GOD--period. . Modi ji is a total vegetarian-fasts and prays every day, he is not vindictive and is not at all selfish, he is doing GOD''s work -- serving others..

Children become selfish very early and think only about themselves-- that makes certain that they will remain second class and abject failure in life, albeit with lots of money and servants, The lucky kids are taught the art and quality of being non selfish by their parents --and those kids will always excel, always. The purpose of life is only and only to serve others and not be served by any one.

Life is such a puzzle that 99-999 % people think that making lots of money and having lots of servants around-- is the mark of success. Far from it that invariably is ''THE'' sign of abject failure--always.

Serving others and doing ''that only'' is the hallmark mark of success- a Bhangi is nuch more successful person than a Trillionaire , always yes always,-- Gandhi ji lived in a Bhangi colony to teach us that !

Clean India clean your Schools, Hospitals, Streets, Clean your own Bathroom, your own Kitchen --and you will be respected. Cleaning your own home is God''s work. GOD is a Bhangi ! That is what Modi ji is teaching the kids of India --and I love that .

A Maharaja whose work is done manyothers is a totally useless person -- and not successful. This life is very temporary -- very, Gautam Buddha showed us that wisdom and taught us to become a pauper that a prince, So did Jesus and so did Shree Ram.

Such are the teachings of Adi Guru Shakracharya!

A good parent will teach their kids that--doing ones own cleaning work -- before any thing else.

Congrats for bringing up the modern times and success !.

01-Feb-2015 13:58 PM

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