There seems to be a consistent concern amongst business managers… applicants for jobs who are college and university graduates have more courses, more credentials, and more hard skills then ever before, but have such poverty in soft skills that it is making hiring a challenging endeavour. Whether it is has reached a tipping point doesn’t matter, the point I have heard repeatedly is that job applicants lack even a basic understanding of human nature, are missing simple common sense, and due to a lack of experience in front line customer service, many are verging of being incapable of interacting professionally during their own job interview, unable to concisely and coherently represent themselves.
It has reached a point where CNBC has posted articles citing job placement company reports where parents of job applicants come to interviews, and in some cases come into the interview process itself to represent their child, for fear that their child will be ineffective at presenting themselves to the potential employer.
In our education system, we have maximized auditory and visual learning from kindergarten all the way up to doctorate candidates, but we have nearly wiped out kinesthetic learning.
There used to a class called “gym”, where did it go? Well it was probably someone who only uses auditory and visual inputs for decision making, figured that the value of kinesthesic learning is useless in the modern world as only STEM (i.e. science, tech, engineering and mathematics) is relevant in the 21st century and beyond, likely the result of their spreadsheet or software unable to integrate soft skills with success.
We took ideas because they were championed by a Ph.D. and we applied the concepts far and wide. Now the consequences of eliminating kinesthetic learning is impacting our children not only in childhood, but all the way into their adult lives, in their ability to function independently as adults.
The outcome of eliminating kinesthesia (i.e. any form of learning through feeling), is that we have a generation that:
- Is more technologically connected than any generation to exist, yet is the most isolated, alone, fearful of human interaction and contact than any generation;
- Is unable to juxtapose audio and visual cues against kinesthesic (i.e. instinct, gut feel) cues and therefore has minimal awareness of subtlety, nuance, and fails to realize that meaning in communication is more often found between the lines, than expressedly written or said;
- Is unable to read a room, an audience, unable to sit on the other side of the table and consider anyone else’s feelings, position, needs or wants,
- Is unable to listen, hear, read and interpret the feelings that their own body produces, resulting in the most medicated, addicted, overweight, obese, diseased cohort to ever exist,
- Is more qualified on paper to perform complex tasks, but verges on incompetency when it comes to engaging other human beings in simple in-person communication.
Because our decision criteria for phys ed, music, art, dance, and acting has been that few make a living at it, and for those with such aspirations, the chances of making it are so remote that it is a equivalent to a black swan event. Therefore, with intentions of steering our children well into their future, we eliminated kinesthesic learning. The consequence is a generation of children with thumbs which can swipe and tap faster than ever imagined, can code an app that will solve almost anything, yet are scared to death to lift their heads up from their devices to interact with reality – not the virtual reality many hope serves as a suitable substitute – but the reality that surrounds them. They are scared to live and breathe in the reality in which they actually live and breathe.
Yet, life is person to person interaction across all three dimensions: physical, mental and emotional. Business too is person to person interaction. The higher you go in business the more interpersonal it becomes, with critical business being conducted not on social media, or in VR, but during a game of golf, tennis, a business dinner, or a black tie event.
The ability to interact is critical to success in life, but instead of developing children to rise to success, we are eliminating their chance at success by removing the critical skills – the soft skills – needed for success, instructing them instead that success comes only with hard skills.
Even with the greatest hard skills in the world, every innovator, disruptor, entrepreneur at some point will need to interact with investors, lawyers, accountants, business partners, shareholders, customers, with partner companies be it suppliers, distributors, retailers or their own managers who decide and act on their behalf. Without soft skills how will they leverage the products of their hard skills to being heard, seen, understood?
So how do you get soft skills?
Kinesthetic learning. Yeah, all that stuff that everyone thought was a waste of time… phys ed, music, painting, sculpting, drawing, writing, singing, dancing, acting. Those wastes of time that were deemed pointless because no one saw a future in those skills, is where real fulfillment and achievement are found, and how hard skills become functional.
Proper coaching and training in sport teaches how to move, how to feel, how to interpret feelings, body sensations, it teaches where movement arises from, what muscles, what joints, what connections are required. It teaches that nothing moves or happens on its own, it teaches that outcomes are the result of a team of unique systems working together to create a whole which is greater than the parts together. It teaches how movement is generated, and how to generate different movements, how to modulate movement with speed, with range, with timing to give it a language so that it itself becomes a form of communication. It teaches what nothing else teaches.
Kinesthetic learning teaches us to stop listening and looking outside, and start listening and looking inside. Without this skill set, I will argue that achieving your potential is impossible. With this skill set, I will not even try to predict to what heights you can climb.