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Roots and Wings

Learning doesn’t stop after one graduates


I haven’t been this tired or read or studied as many business books as I did back in college. I have forgotten that side of me, in favor of other pursuits such as parenting and, yes, writing.

However, last month, I reentered the corporate world a year shy of turning 50 and now I find myself having to catch up and make up for all those years.

One month feels more like 10 months, but don’t get me wrong—so far so good. Although I was dog-tired the first two weeks, I’ve slowly adjusted to my “new normal” and I am enjoying this new chapter of my life.

Where I’m at, we follow the 70-20-10 principle where 70 percent of learning happens on the job, 20 percent is learning from others, and only 10 percent is formal learning. It’s really a lot about immersing oneself and soaking in as much as you can.

It’s a principle one can actually apply to any discipline and even to the other areas of one’s life.

I did not have a journalism or communications degree when I joined this paper many moons ago, so now when I think about it, I was already practicing the 70-20-10 rule even back then. Motherhood? Same thing—you learn as you go, 24/7, you seek help from your mother, your doctor and other moms who are more seasoned, you read books, and articles and blogs—70-20-10.


Stop and smell the roses

Every Friday morning at work, one of our senior leaders gathers us in a huddle and shares his wisdom. Then he asks us how we are doing and if we have anything to share. It’s a fast-paced environment where we are, but there are moments, like Friday mornings, when we get to stop and smell the roses.

Today’s wisdom was culled from an article by NY Times best-selling author Chris Widener on the eight choices one can make to change one’s life forever.  I was struck by four of the points raised, so let me share them.

First, Widener says that we must choose always to treat others right. “We come across all sorts of people, many of whom will treat us poorly. We can choose to treat them right, no matter how they treat us. We may get the short end of the stick sometimes, but in the long run we will win. And most important, we will be able to sleep at night.”

Whether it’s the waiter, the butcher, the baker, the guard or the janitor, or the elevator girl, it doesn’t really matter, we are all equal and God put us all on the same page.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see a waiter humiliated in public, or a family dining in a restaurant on a weekend and the poor yaya has to sit at a separate table with only a glass of water. I really think that’s terrible.

Next, Widener suggests that we choose to see our work as a way to help others, and not as a way to make money. “If you put your heart into helping others, the money will most assuredly come. Spend time helping others grow and your finances will grow with it.”

I’ve been working in the pharmaceutical industry and though the industry has gotten a lot of flak in the news, I’ve now seen it up close. There is a lot of good it can do when it decides to.

In times of crisis, they are some of the first companies you can count on to help, and many of them reach out without fanfare.

Widener also stresses the importance of choosing to become balanced spiritually, emotionally and physically.  “Our lives are best when we have these three major areas in balance so make sure to spend time cultivating and nurturing each area.”

Our workplace has a gym, a prayer room and a couple of oscillation rooms that are pretty well-used. There is a learning library and comfortable spots that remind me of Winnie the Pooh’s thoughtful spot.

I now wake up earlier and make sure I spend at the very least, half an hour on the treadmill almost each day.

Sowing more than one reaps is another choice that resonated with me. Widener says, “There are many takers in this world, but our lives will be better as we become givers.”  I’ve found time and again that extending oneself, and sharing, in big and little ways, (without being a doormat, of course) is actually energizing.

I once heard Dr. Fe del Mundo say, “Give the world your best without expecting anything in return and you will realize that even better will be given back to you.”

Her generosity of spirit was a testament to the wonderful life that she lived.

Lastly, and very simply, Widener encourages us to get home for dinner more often. “The family is the most important group of people you will ever belong to.” Choosing to spend more time with them (rather than in front of the television, or the computer) is one choice you will never regret.

Even though my days have become way busier now, I find that I make more effort to spend time with my children now grown, who have worlds of their own.

One of the best nights I had recently was a ramen dinner and an ice cream date with my 15-year-old son. The car was late in coming and the mall was closing so we had to walk the two kilometers from the mall to our home. It was the first night without rain and, though my feet were killing me, listening to his stories and hearing his laughter, my heart was full.

Follow the author on Twitter @cathybabao

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Tags: Business books , Learning , Motherhood , PARENTING , writing

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