Today, I am in my 20s

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a piece on how working from office has a positive impact on work life. With a catchy title and current topic, the article travelled widely and garnered meaningful conversations. 

The week after, it was followed with an article on Pivot vs Perish. This piece manoeuvred around another article by eminent economists, relying on it as a reference point to create mental models for readers. Reading is hard. A read inside another read is even harder. And, reading to enhance the thinking process is just too much work. In hindsight, the title of that article was apt- tumse na ho payega!

Unlike many things in the world that are designed to be fixed, human mind is designed to grow. The beauty is, it is designed to grow at our pace and our will. If we find learning hard, thinking is even harder. So in today’s piece, we will make it young, this mind of ours. 

Like, really being in our 20s and thinking for ourselves from that angle. A fresh graduate, fresh out of comfort zone, into a new world of work, the uncertain world, some hope in the eyes, a spring in the step and a mask on the face. 

So here you are, ready to read and think like a rookie at workplace, and take a note of these 7 lessons from commencement speeches in 2020, the year of pandemic, by some learned, successful people.

1. Be a graduate, a fresh graduate. 

Oprah Winfrey:  You know, the word “graduate” comes from the Latin gradus, meaning “a step toward something,” and in the early 15th century, “graduation” was a term used in alchemy to mean a tempering or refining. Every one of us is now being called to graduate, to step toward something, even though we don’t know what. Every one of us is likewise now being called to temper the parts of ourselves that must fall away, to refine who we are, how we define success and what is genuinely meaningful. 

2. Be in the service of your dream

Steven Spielberg : You’re going to know a dream from a casual brush with something that you got excited about, and then it evaporates. A real dream is something that not only hangs on to you but you will hang onto it. And it will power you through every obstacle that people and your environment will throw against you. Because if we’re in service of our dreams versus our dreams being in service to us it becomes something greater. It allows us to be game and it allows us to get over our fear to go forward no matter what obstacles are thrown in our path.  

3.Build a community

LeBron James: Class of 2020, I know the last thing you want to hear right now is “stay home.” That’s not my message to you. My message is, stay close to home. Maybe not physically but in every other way possible. Pursue every ambition, go as far as you can possibly dream and be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility, a responsibility to rebuild your community. Class of 2020, the world has changed. You will determine how we rebuild, and I ask that you make your community your priority.

4.Be an essential worker

Oprah Winfrey: Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. If humanity is a global body, every soul is a cell in that body, and we are being challenged like never before to keep the global body healthy by keeping ourselves healthy in mind and body and spirit. As all the traditions affirm, the deepest self-care is at once caring for the human family. And we see this so clearly with essential workers. Look who turns out to be essential: teachers — your teachers, health care workers, of course, the people stocking grocery shelves, the cashiers, the truck drivers, food providers, those who are caring for your grandparents, those who clean the places where we work and shop and carry out our daily lives. We are all here because they, at great and profound risk, are still providing their essential service. What will your essential service be? What really matters to you? The fact that you’re alive means you’ve been given a reprieve to think deeply about that question. How will you use what matters in service to yourself, your community and the world?

5.Be fearless to change

Bill Gates: The important thing to remember about career paths is that they don’t have to last forever, and when I was in my 20s, I thought I’d always worked in software. I never saw myself working in philanthropy or on global health at all, let alone leaving behind my job at Microsoft to do it full-time. As you get older, your interests and your skills will evolve. My advice is to be open to change. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

6.Be a lending hand

Malala Yousafzai: Like all of you, I’m also missing my graduation ceremony this year. And we are not alone. Across the world, Covid-19 has forced more than one billion students out of school. For most of us this is temporary. We’ll continue our education and follow our dreams.But many girls especially in developing countries will never return to the classroom. Because of this crisis they will be forced into early marriages or low-paying jobs to support their families. When schools reopen their desks will be empty. They are our peers. They have the same right to education as we do. So, I ask you to remember them today as you go out and change the world. Don’t leave them behind. The class of 2020 won’t be defined by what we lost to this virus but by how we responded to it. 

7. Be respectful to your online life:

Matthew McConaughey: Act today in ways that you will respect tomorrow. From how you treat yourself to how you treat others in real life and online. And what I mean by online, just remember those comments you leave online, those thumbs-up or thumbs-down, they will outlive you. They are part of your resume of who you are.

Why a young mind? Why now? The pandemic has created an uncertain environment for everyone. What was true pre-covid may not hold true in the new normal. How we think is how we shape our lives. Sometimes, in uncertain situations, it is wise to think in small packets and in unbiased, fresh style. Our cognitive biases, that govern our decision making abilities, make us judgemental before we go through the steps of critical thinking. It will be wise to remind ourselves, occasionally, that we are fresh graduates from the pandemic, stepping out in the new normal. To keep your biases at bay, say, Today, I am in my Twenties.”

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