I was invited to give the keynote address to the incoming PR and Corp Comm. class at the Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC). There was a group of over 100 people who got together online, for this special occasion. There were about 60 students and the rest were family members and teachers. As I gathered my thoughts about what I wanted to share with them, two things struck me.
- There are some universal truths that do not change – the need to communicate with each other for instance.
- Much of my past experience was not relevant to share – only what I had learnt in the last 100 days was possibly useful.
In this, was the essence of my message to them. They are the next generation of PR professionals. The ‘new normal natives’ who will write the next chapter, find the new ways to communicate. This class would be the one to unleash their creative energies and say “I don’t know” but I am excited to find out. They will be the ones to climb new mountains. Explore new places. Go where others had never gone before. This has been the task of every batch of new students. This one will be no different.
The class of 2020 – 21 will figure it out. They will show us the way. It’s up to us to be brave enough to get out of their way and allow them to explore this new world and help us navigate a better path forward. We owe it to them. We owe it to ourselves.
I now realise the class size will be much larger than the 60 I spoke to. It will be all 7.8 billion of us. I reached this conclusion a few days later, when my son approached the topic of his impending departure from home. He is ready to begin his own college journey and I was filled with fear and doubt. I lost sight of the energy and excitement that I had offered to the XIC gang, at the prospect of rewriting the rules of PR.
This conversation was much closer to home. It gave me (and my wife) many sleepless nights and new worries to deal with. The fall semester is upon us and decisions have to be made. To go or not to go. The answers were staring at me in my face. I had done the thinking. Shared the wisdom with the XIC class of 2020-21. I just needed to have the courage to follow my own advice.
Help and inspiration will come from unexpected sources. The amazing Aparna Jain brought a smile to our lips and joy to our tongues, courtesy her special pahadi mutton curry which she cooked specially for Neil, in celebration of his results. A powerful reminder of the ability we all have to touch each other’s lives in a positive and uplifting way. Thank you Aparna for showing us how to savour the moment and share the important moments in each other’s lives. Adding to the calorie count and the happiness was a lovely chocolate cake that *Vanessa Baker sent across to wish us well.
Wide eyed with wonder. Or wide eyed with fear of the unknown? Possibly a bit of both. The class of 2020-21 will have many learners. Not just the students. Teachers. Parents and the entire support ecosystem will be learning together.
A paradigm shift from ‘Knowledge is power’ to ‘Sharing knowledge is power’ has happened. We are being forced to collaborate to fight a common enemy. If I am safe. You stay safe. If you stay safe, so do I. Truly reinforcing the powers of win-win thinking. Find out what’s working and share it freely. It shall set us free. This is the new way forward.
Teachers have to relearn the art of teaching. Students have to rethink what it means to learn. I don’t know. But I will find out. When I do, I will share my insights, my experience and my learning with others. Together we will find our way through to the other side. We will win together. Figure it out together.
I hope and believe that a collective consciousness will emerge. As the win-win mindset sets in and the world experiences the power of this approach, we will see a shift in energies. Ironically it is fear that is uniting us and moving the world away from a fear based, ‘fight with the other and win’ space. Opening the doors to a higher consciousness not dominated and lead by fear, but by caring and sharing.
Some of us will leap into this with eagerness and determination. Some of us will want to wait and watch. Some will decide to let the year pass and learn from others mistakes. Like in every class there will be the bright sparks, the bullies, the beauties and the back benchers. There will be fights and victories. Broken hearts and bruised egos. Every day we are living and learning life’s little lessons that begin to shape the person who emerges. This is the doorstep of opportunity we the class of 2020-21 stand at.
No ‘one’ is coming to help. Everyone is. In their own way. At their own pace. One by one the class of 2020-21 will find a way to accept that learning is the way forward. We can only learn from each other by caring enough and sharing our experiences. Knowledge is power. Sharing this knowledge is what will help us power through into the future. Sharing some Curry and Cake along the way is what will make the journey special.
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