One of the old school approaches to learning was to basically ‘train’ your students to learn things in a certain way. This made things easier all round for everyone. The teacher, the student and most importantly the world they were living in. The goal for any teacher and student was to make sure everyone would be able to ‘fit in’. The problem was that some just didn’t, and what happened to them? Well, they either became brilliant movers and shakers or ended up in prison or an asylum.
Sad but true, but no more! The days of wiring your brain to fit in is over, and now it’s more about re-wiring your brain to be open, excited, forward thinking and innovative. Re-wiring the old wiring however isn’t easy. There will definitely be some older ones who are going to end up just sliding into retirement mode and letting the other ‘young ones’ take the lead. That’s actually the law of nature anyway. But what if you can’t afford to retire yet, and your job is on the line and you need to be more innovative but your brain just can’t handle it? That’s not only a problem for you but for your company.
Rewiring old wiring takes time – ask any electrician. In fact if we are to compare this process to what electricians do these days, it may appear outright devastating. What they do now is completely gut out all the old wires and replace them with a new more efficient network that is much simpler, faster and able to be ready for anything. Therefore, is it possible to do the same to old brains too?
Well, though electric circuitry is an important part of how our brains function, they are a lot more complex than someone’s electricity circuit box in their home. Human brains contain not only systems and routines, they also contain memories and pleasure centres and unconscious patterns that are very complex and ‘hard-wired’ into the DNA of the person. So gutting out a brain and simply replacing it with something new, isn’t an option.
So what to do?
First things first, the new generation who are coming through will be no longer millennials but a whole new wave of open thinking people who were raised on the internet, social media and AI. These people will expect the world to be dynamic, interesting and everchanging. These are the new batch who will personalise everything and expect all things to be available to their super-flexible brain. The other group are the ones who are in a company and have been for a while and who know they need to change or open up but don’t know how. These are the frightened ones, the ones who are nowhere near retirement and know they have to do something but don’t know what. They could bail out and try something different (yet very similar to what they are doing but a lot less stressful…but ultimately will become just as stressful as the other job…), or they could demand that the company they are working for are going to guide them in the way their brain needs.
The rewiring of the ‘student’ is no longer an issue for the school system, it is an issue for the companies who are employing the 40+ year olds who are caught in the gap. The responsibility does go both ways, but for a company to survive they will need to put rewiring as the top most important strategy for the HR department.
As with any change management within a company, every employee needs to see ‘what’s in it for me’. The rewiring for learning concept is around us everywhere and in particular our mobile phones. Start with this and the person may see that the smart phone is already getting their brain wired in a certain way….this could be the way things need to shift in their view of their workplace learning.
Once the person sees there is no escape they are already half way there, they can feel a lot more comfortable. Making change is uncomfortable at the least and horrifically devastating at it’s worst. But whichever way it happens, it is going to have to happen. Rewiring can feel exhausting, useless and without certainty, but everyone must be reassured that the way we think in the future must be ready for Velocity-Uncertainty-Complexity-Ambiguity. And I do believe it will be the Ambiguity that will be the hardest.
So get rewired now….