“We’re not Gonna Need that in Real Life,” they said.

“The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant.”

~ Plato

 
 
We’ve heard it before. Our working friends say it, our parents admit it: more than 50% of what we learn in university, we’re not going to use in ‘real-life’. And you’re hearing it from me now that I earned my degree in Psychology, spending years learning how to deal with people, and currently work as a Market Research Executive, spending my days dealing with products and numbers.

 

 

I’d fit the profile, of someone who ‘has wasted their time studying’. Unless, there’s more to learn in our studying days than what we’re ‘supposed to’. Unless, I actually did.

 
1. I remember my first few days in uni flipping through my textbooks and going, “What on earth did I get myself into…” By the end of my three years I could probably give a two-hour lecture on Psychology if I had to. Our uni days are the time we learn how to be an expert at something. Because in the ‘real world’, where many of us will find ourselves doing what we are not put up for, it will need that same level of attitude before we can really say, “Yup, this is what I do now.” Only in a much shorter time, with no textbook as a guide. So be thankful that,

 

2. University is a time we learn how to be resourceful. We’ve had that one assignment we can’t find the solution in Wikipedia for, that event project we need to find sponsors for. Remember those times we took the trouble going around asking the right people, searching further than Google, or taking the initiative to plunge right into something to learn by doing. Because in the ‘real world’, as we scavenge for clues to figure out precisely how to do what we do and do it well, it will need that same amount of effort before we can really say, “Yup, I got this.”

 

3. And just as we settle down, comes the heightened responsibilities, the demands and the deadlines of the ‘real world’; the job request that comes in the morning and needs completion by the day’s end. Takes you back to all those times you burnt that midnight oil completing a 1000-word report overnight. But if you have learned how to shut out all distraction and focus your mind to produce requirements-meeting good-quality work under uncompromisable time pressure, then you have learned in university one important skill you will need in ‘real-life’.

 

Some of us will be fortunate enough to be able to bring into the workplace precisely the knowledge and skills they have been taught. And some of us will be okay not to. Because the fact is that we will still have learned, often more than we realize or give ourselves credit for. And as long as we invest our efforts beyond the information and into the process, we will learn just what we need in life.

 

Tya

As written for and published on Leaderonomics Campus on May 15, 2012.

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Happy Un-Father’s Day from The Amazing Spider-Man!

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.

~ Bill Cosby

 
 
The Amazing Spider-Man was great. It was just as how I’d expected it to be; well-cast, well-developed in characters, well-written and well-directed. I must say, however, it still would have been yet just another superhero summer blockbuster experience if it wasn’t because one thing I had not expected to live vicariously through the story that is just as significant as heroism; fatherhood.

 
Fatherhood, to me, has always been more than just the idea of a male figure who puts a roof over our head, sends us to school and teaches us how to ride the bike. Just as importantly, Fatherhood is the idea of a person who teaches us the values of life, shows us what it means to be human, and sends us to the path of not just greatness but also goodness.

 

 
In The Amazing Spider-Man, these ideals cannot be better represented than by Ben Parker. A man who, despite not classifying as a ‘father’ by lawful definition, gives the term ‘Fatherhood’ its true meaning. And it is because of these lessons that his character demonstrates:

 
1. Sometimes, in order to teach a child a value, a father needs to be able to see past the damage the child may have caused to point them out to the dignity they may have cost. Being a father means knowing when a child’s act of destroying a basketball hoop backboard is less concerning than their act of humiliating another person for the purpose of revenge and making themselves feel better.

 
2. We can’t always hide the truth from a child; but we can always be there for them when they discover it, and be open and honest enough in helping them to process it. Being a father means being able to recognize when anymore secret is not going to help a child in moving his life forward, and being aware of their need to understand their life and giving them space to achieve it.

 
3. In raising a child, while there will inevitably be moments of having to point out right and wrong, there need to also be moments of nothing more than acknowledging their feelings and emotions. Being a father means being able to assert an understanding of the wrong-doing in neglecting commitment and responsibility, without forgetting to maintain respect for the child’s pain over the difficulty they experience having someone they hold dear absent from most of their life.

 
4. At the end of the day, fatherhood is a call to love above all else. Being a father means sacrificing his wants for his child’s needs, putting their safety before his, and giving the little they have in the world to make sure their life is fulfilled. Even when he had not signed up for it to begin with.

 
Ben Parker is a hero the day he took Peter into his modest household and took on the responsibility of raising him. Ben Parker is a Father the days he plants seeds of heroism in Peter through his noble values; the days his love, commitment and sacrifice give the great Spider-Man his goodness.

 
Today may not be the official Father’s Day of the year. But just as (according to Alice In Wonderland’s Mad Hatter) we celebrate our Un-Birthday everyday as a reason to gather and cheer, there is no reason for us not to celebrate Un-Father’s Day any day of the year to honour the significance of the Father figures and their role in our everyday lives.

 
So to all the Fathers out there who are Fathers by their heroic love, commitment and sacrifice:
Happy Un-Father’s Day, Everyday! =)

 

 
 
Tya

As written for and published on Leaderonomics Campus on August 22, 2012.

Why ‘Brave’ is Not about ‘Changing Your Fate’

“Fate be changed. Look inside. Mend the bond. Torn by pride.”

~ Brave (2012)

 
 
When I decided to sit through Pixar’s most recent instalment, ‘Brave’, I had a specific objective in mind. While having been flashed many times by the image of this frizzy red-haired, bow-holding young woman on billboards for weeks prior to the film, I’d always wondered, Why ‘Brave’?

 
 

 
 
It’s a petty question. But considering that I’d been well-marketed to that ‘Brave’ is a movie about ‘Changing your fate’, I was curious to find out what the connection between the two concepts is anyway. In the context of the story, I wondered, is being ‘Brave’ defined as having the courage to change your fate if you were given the opportunity to?

 
Watching the film with my 12 year-old sister and a studio half-full of other (theoretically) impressionable children and tweens, I frankly became quite concerned when the big question on fate finally came about.

I was concerned that the act of passing the responsibility of fixing your life’s trouble to a complete stranger with an unsuccessful work history, with only the strength of your faith in a supernatural force assumed to be guiding you to the right path, may be considered an act of bravery.

(Not to mention asking this shady stranger to solve the problem through someone else, much less your mother, rather than your own self; only to later put the blame on them when the work you haven’t given enough specifications for – unsurprisingly – turns out terribly wrong.)

 
By then I’d become rather worried that Disney may have mistaken being ‘Brave’ with being a free-spirited daredevil adolescent with developmentally characteristic rebellious tendencies, autonomy-striving quality, and penchant for risk-taking and impulsivity.

 
But as the story progresses and follows both Merida and her mother go through the process of opening their minds to listen to and hearts to understand one another, acknowledging their own short-sightedness and owning up to their faults, setting aside their egos and learning to find perspective and virtue in each other, that’s when it hit me; That’s why.

 
For some of us, family is one of the most precious treasures we could have. For others, it can be one of life’s most challenging trials. The terms and conditions, however, are in most normal cases the same; we don’t choose the family we become a part of and that is a Fate we cannot change.

 
For those who face the latter, as is the case with Merida, we know how much easier it would be to just try to change them in some way or in some cases even leave them altogether; because we know how painful it would be to walk through pieces of glasses and try to mend what’s been broken. But as is the case with Merida and her mother, there’s one thing it takes to do just that, Courage.

 
 

 
 
In the context of the story, being ‘Brave’ is not about taking the chance to ‘change your fate’ when it seems to be working against you; it is about giving yourself the chance to undergo the trying process of viewing it with wisdom and making peace with it.

Being ‘Brave’, is not about taking the opportunity to let yourself free from pain to seek for a fate you desire; it is about giving yourself the opportunity to walk through the pain in order to achieve something well beyond Fate – Peace with oneself and others.

 
And that, I believe, is a Superhero tale worth passing along through generations.

 
 
Tya

As written for and published on Leaderonomics Campus on July 9, 2012.

Why My Purple Power Ranger Dreams Still Don’t Know Better

“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

~ Malcolm X

 
 
How many of you can still remember moments in your childhood where you spent time playing Superhero, make-believing you were Batman, Wonderwoman, or Superman?

I still remember the time when my life goal was to become a purple Power Ranger.

As childish as that may sound right now, the truth is that for some of us, those dreams have never really left. As we watch the latest instalments of Spiderman, X-Men, or Iron Man, we still hear that tiny voice inside of us that wishes we were one of them.

But it rather baffles me, Why? Why on earth do we still wanna be Superheroes?

 
Because sure, there’s the appeal of glory, fame and thrill. But we also know better by now that’s not the whole story. We all know about the physical threats, the risk of putting those we love in danger, thus the loneliness and the emotional toll that come with the package.

So does it all come down to ‘Pros vs. Cons’? Is it just a matter of advantages outweighing the burden?

 

Perhaps that is one way to look at it. But let’s think about what truly play a role in motivating Superheroes to do what they do,

Batman – Justice

Spiderman – Responsibility

Iron Man – Duty

Thor – Peace & Harmony.

 
And if we look at our own real-life ‘Superheroes’ and what drive them,

Aung San Suu Kyi – Democracy

Malcolm X – Equality

Gandhi – Freedom

Mother Teresa – Love and Compassion,

 
we don’t exactly find Fame, Glory or Thrill in the top list.

Perhaps it is there somewhere, but most probably small and trivial. As if it were only for that, it would be hard to think how they could fight for that long, because let’s face it, in terms of Pros vs. Cons, the Cons generally quite outweigh the Pros. (And otherwise we’d have a lot more Superheroes in the world, right?)

 

As we watch the struggles these characters face in their fights, we see that being a Superhero means living the word Sacrifice. But we also see that being a Superhero means Standing up for a cause. A cause bigger than themselves, big enough to outweigh the burden that their role carries.

So at the end of the day, it’s not so much a matter of ‘Pros vs. Cons’ as much as it is a matter of
What stand in our way vs. What we stand for’.

 

We dream of becoming Superheroes for different reasons. But I believe that fundamentally, that tiny child-like voice comes from the same place: the part of us that stands for something.

Something bigger than ourselves; big enough for us to defend, fight for and sacrifice over.

 
But those who bring these dreams to life, are the ones who not only realize, that the weight of what they stand for outweighs that of what stand in their ways, but are able to live it each and every day of their lives.

 

 

Tya

As written for and published on Leaderonomics Campus on July 5, 2012.