As 2018 kicks off, the internet buzzes with ideas about how to do everything better than last year: work, relationships, fitness, you name it. As a college professor, I am always thinking about how to teach better. So much of teaching is about preparing students for life after graduation. How do we know what, exactly, this rising generation will need to know to sustain themselves in their careers? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that we shouldn’t worry so much about mastering the next hot skill set because it will change as swiftly as technology evolves:
“As the half-life of specific skills diminishes, and machines become proficient at tasks including even decision-making, then fundamentally human capabilities become more important: empathy, curiosity, creativity, imagination, emotional and social intelligence, leadership, and the development of other people.”
Writing helps to develop all of these human capabilities. It requires us to pull something out of our minds—thoughts, feelings, concepts—and connect it to the world around us.
We learn empathy when we struggle to make an idea comprehensible to someone else.
We demonstrate curiosity in our willingness to acquire knowledge and convey it to others.
We use imagination as we shape our language to describe or explain something.
We exhibit emotional intelligence by managing our feelings in an effort to communicate clearly.
We practice social intelligence when we see ourselves as communicators in a complex environment.
We exercise leadership in our willingness to guide others with the content of our writing.
We foster the development of other people by sharing the thoughts that we think will help them.
It is not an overstatement to say that writing helps us to nurture the most essential aspects of our humanity. The writing process slows down our minds, and because our efforts are outwardly directed, it connects us to others. Or at least, that is what we strive to do when we write—to situate ourselves in the world and to find ourselves in sync with other minds.
Happy New Year. May 2018 be a great year for you and your writing.