Phew! What a marathon! Blog 22 on the #blogchatterA2Z challenge! So today is V for Versatile. Versatility is basically the ability to adapt to different functions or activities. A versatile person is able to pursue many interests and hobbies, is usually skilled at more than one thing and shows greater flexibility in adapting to newer situations.
Versatility will probably be one of the most important skills in the job market going forward, given the fast pace at which the world is changing. People will be expected to continuously upskill or reskill themselves to remain relevant. In such a world, it is difficult to predict what kind of jobs will be the most relevant or important 10 or 20 years from now. We don’t even know what kind of jobs will remain. The only thing we can do is to prepare our children to be versatile enough to adapt to the ever changing environment.
Just like uniqueness though, even versatility has not been encouraged as much as it should have been. Under the garb of focus, many times children are encouraged to drop other interests in order to pursue one. Even sayings such as the “Jack of All Trades and Master of None” tend to discourage versatility. Frankly I think the Jack of all Trades would be a very very interesting person! Other than that, I believe that people who are versatile are emotionally more healthy – for the simple reason that they have many interests to fall back on in case of a stressful situation. These interests act as great stressbusters.
I know many people who are able to follow an interest or passion alongside their jobs – a schoolmate who is a surgeon also loves photography and has recently started making very realistic clay models of animals. A witty colleague tried his hand at stand up comedy a few years ago and is now doing this regularly alongside his job. Another friend who is a doctor does beautiful paintings in free time. My sister who works in the entertainment industry also loves doing photography and has been able to build her alternate career in candid photography. My uncle is spending his life after retirement painting pictures and has now got his 5 year old grandson interested in it too.
As parents, we should aim to encourage our children to explore all of their interests as much as possible and not categorise them by what they do best and what they don’t. Let us look at some ways in which to encourage our children’s versatility:
Help them explore and follow their interests: as I mentioned in my last blog, we should try and understand what our children seem to like and let them explore that more deeply. Whether it is one or 10 different areas of interest – let them try their hands at all that. Understand what they are naturally good at, give them the right tools or training to build their skills in those areas. As they grow up, they may decide to follow one or more of them and drop some of the others. I remember I loved having my feet in multiple boats – singing, dancing, painting, dramatics and whatever else I could lay my hands on. And I am grateful that my parents gave me the opportunity to explore all of these interests.
Instill a love for learning: one can learn in any situation and anywhere they are. Encourage your children’s curiosity and expose them to as much of the world as possible through travel, books, visits to museums, dance recitals, theatre shows etc. Moreover, with all the tools that technology has provided us, it is easy to make learning fun and limitless. We need not only rely on the standard methods of learning. There are a number of online shows that help improve skillsets and knowledge, you can virtually visit so many places. There are online lessons on almost all areas of interest and are easily accessible if there isn’t one physically available.
Encourage them to try new things: summer holidays are a great time to try to learn something new. If your child has multiple interests, they could explore different interests every year – dramatics one year and robotics another year. But if they are focused on one type of activity, they could learn different facets of it every year – example learning to play different instruments or learning different styles of painting – oil colours, fabric paints, nib painting, batik and so on. By learning different things, they are preparing themselves to be able to adapt to different situations.
Diversify their experiences: introduce them to as many new experiences as possible – travel to new places, try new cuisines, meet new people. All this will help peak their curiosity, interest them in new things and encourage them to try new stuff.
Encourage them to develop multifaceted personalities: encourage your children to participate in as many extra curricular activities at school as possible. Be it art competitions or quizzes or sports or doing backstage work for a theatre production. Help them develop interests apart from studies and let them do multiple things alongside their classwork and homework. This will also help them learn time management skills simultaneously. A word of caution though – don’t burden them with too many things and ensure their interest in the activity.
Develop a flexible attitude: ultimately the ability to change or be versatile comes from a flexible attitude. Encourage children to have flexible thinking, be open to diverse thoughts and opinions and to not be rigid. This would encourage adaptability to different situations.
Finally, I just want to reassert that children by nature are curious and have varied interests. As parents, we should try and help them explore and try out as many things as possible and let them develop skills in multiple areas. It will help develop multi talented and well rounded personalities.