Life skills, why are they crucial? A talk with Arnold Beekes

In the series of interviews to understand new tools, methods and skills for creating the next society, here a talk with Arnold Beekes, CEO of TheNewABC

 I wish I did know about compassion, when I was 18 years old, then I would have performed much better ~ Kobe Bryant

Arnold, how did you decide to deal with this problem? How did you even realize that there is a problem?

Some 15 years ago my flourishing career with a multinational came to an (unexpected) end. At the same time that I lost my job, I got divorced, my father died and we had to sell the house. All the foundations of my life did crumble down. That is when I did realise that I needed new skills to cope with this situation. New skills like self-compassion, dealing with uncertainty, understanding my passion and my strengths. Why had nobody taught me those skills?

As I had always been an intrapreneur, it was for me a natural step to become an entrepreneur. One of my activities was coaching. In my coaching practice I did notice that my clients became younger and younger and that they did experience, stress, burnout and physical problems. That is sad, that in their twenties they are having these challenges. And again, it is clear that they do lack the life skills to cope with a challenging environment. As I do meet unemployed people, employees, entrepreneurs and freelancers from all over the world, they are facing big challenges and they look for solutions (mainly) outside of themselves. That is not going to help you. Like myself, I had to learn to look inside for solutions and directions. That is a major shift in perspective.  The turmoil in our personal life and work is largely influenced by bigger changes happening in society.

So how does reality look like?

It is clear that we are in a period of time, which is called ‘transition’, the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. We are coming out of the Industrial Age (characterized by efficiency, repetition and thus standardization — building a ‘system of sameness’ in every aspect of life) into a new age, which some people call the Information Age. We are not sure about that name, Information Age, as we see information as, the enabler, rather than the purpose and intention in itself. We would like to call it the Age of Connection (characterized by creation, contribution and thus participation — building a ‘universe of uniqueness’), to be truly connected with ourselves, with others, animals and with nature.

The 6 driving forces in this transition are:

●       “Deceptive  —  early stages of exponential growth processes may be deceptively linear

●       Disruptive  —  once exponential growth reaches the inflection point, or “knee of the curve,” they become truly disruptive

●       Digitized  —  more information is becoming digitized, opening the door for a layer of analytics (e.g. machine learning) to be placed on top of it

●       Dematerialized —  no longer do you have to buy a flashlight or digital camera, you can simply purchase an app on your phone to accomplish these tasks

●       Demonetized  —  as manufacturing techniques improve, technologies are becoming less expensive at an alarming pace

●       Democratized  —  there will be 3 billion more people on the Internet by 2020, leading to more perspectives because these people will be given a voice in the global discourse for the first time”

 So, which are these new skills that can help people work in this new environment?

We call them TheNewWorker life skills: they are related to observing, communicating, sustaining yourself, and dealing with challenges. For example: relaxing, unplugging, meditation and mindfulness are some of the key elements of this new set of skills to acquire in order to better communicate. Whereas for sustaining yourself you should take care of your sleep, food, health as well as realizing the importance to surround yourself with peers and families, being able to sustain yourself financially and improve your creativity, imagination and innovation.

How can these skills be learned?

In my opinion, traditional schools and universities don’t teach any of the skills needed to successfully work in the new environment. Moreover, these skills are highly needed at work. And again, employees don’t know where to learn them. In order to acquire them you need to internalize new ways of acting and working. To do so, we organize (digital) workshops, case studies and coaching sessions. We are also creating a global community of peers that can support each other. I believe that with these new skills employees will achieve their goal and create a better life for themselves.

Arnold, thanks for sharing this conversation :-)