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  • Irina Ketkin - Learning and Development expert

Being good people

In school we were thought math, science, literature and sports. We were taught how to sit, how to talk and how to think (for the most part). We were taught that in order to learn something, you need to memorise it, in order to think critically, you need to find what others have critiqued about. But no one taught us how to adult. And no one taught us what being a good human being means.

I find myself more and more often in situations where I am expected to know how to adult. Or how to think for myself. Or even lead people. I am expected to know right from wrong. I should know what’s the best course of actions. But I don’t. And this is where my internal conflict kicks in.

I tried going down memory lane and searching for the moment someone told me what it means to be good people. Apart from the occasional classical novel, which also struggles to draw a definitive line between good and bad, no teacher, parent or friend came up to me and said “Being a good person means…”.

As I am far from thinking that I am the only one in this situation, I imagine there are others out there struggling with the same notion. So what do we do about it? Our educational system will never catch up unless in fundamentally changes its approach. And parents also battle the fight for right and wrong. So who is there to teach us how to adult?

Organisations oftentimes expect people to already know how to be good adults. But they often fail in recognising when someone isn’t up to par. Then there are two options – fire or develop. As for the former, again the question of good and bad rises. Is it good practice to fire someone who’s not delivering the expected results? Or is it bad to fire a single mother taking care of her 3 children?

In terms of developing – this is where L&D is expected to come in. But is it L&D’s sole responsibility to develop people potential? My personal opinion – no, absolutely not. Every organisation is like a complex organism. Your arm can be pulled by a string but if the brain doesn’t kick in, it won’t scratch your head. L&D is like the string – it can give you the general idea of the action you are supposed to take. But if you do not buy into it and understand the meaning of it, it might as well be a ticking boxes kind of exercise.

So can L&D help you become a good adult? No. Can it help in the journey? Yes. What else is required? Your own free will and desire to scratch your head.

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