Sunday, 13 November 2016

Finding your Ikigai

After a really long silence I decided to don my writers cap. (Too many people are asking me if I have stopped writing, I feel guilty that I am letting them down.(!) So here goes .

Ikigai is that sweet spot that the Japanese refer to as the ‘reason of being’ or the discovery of one’s passion or the reason to get up every morning; the meaning of life. The reason why we continue to do the things that we do, things that we are proud of. I wake up every morning ready to make a difference in someone’s life , every single day.  There’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than knowing that I have helped a young person make better informed choices and that continues to be our mission at Varsity Connections.  That’s my Ikigai.

It has been a busy October for Varsity Connections. We were proud to partner with NAJAH to host their knowledge Zone at the 3-day event in Abu Dhabi.   As part of this,we had put together a series of workshops for students , parents and School counselors.  I am so proud to say that all our sessions were well attended and the feedback that we received after the event has been phenomenal.  The counselor forum that we coordinated was a platform for school and independent counselors to come together to knowledge share and continually develop in their professional lives. A lot of prep went into this event as we wanted to make sure that we delivered sessions that would be useful to school counselors. A survey was done to understand what might be possible areas to concentrate on. One of the most common refrain from my counselor colleagues is the fact that there is a major motivational dip. With a small team to cope with large numbers of students , the annual inspections at the schools with  the  additional    documentation ,it can be challenging  to stay motivated.  These professionals are pulled away from their calling in many ways and eventually lose sight of what their Ikigai is. We see it often. Young school counselors eager to do their best for the students, with a lot of projects and plans for the academic year and then barely 18 months later, more or less resigned to the fact that a lot of their plans might not see the light of day.   So high on the agenda, was for us to develop programs to help maintain their momentum, to focus on what is important, to prioritise and re unite with their ikigai. We had sessions covering Peer Support specific for School counselors and Year heads, The growing relevance of psychometrics in Academics, Developing excellence as a habit, Preparing students for the 21st century and so on.  I thank all of our wonderful trainers who came unconditionally and enthusiastically to support us and for making the sessions so interactive as well.    

I’ll be honest. I was quite nervous about the response that we would get from the Abu Dhabi schools as historically for us at the office, it has always been an uphill  task to engage with them. Although there were close to 30 registrations online we were on tenterhooks as experience has taught us that the online ‘yays’ often never translates to physical presence.  But every seat was filled for our sessions and there were overwhelming requests for more platforms like ours after the sessions. Clearly there is a dearth of training sessions like these in Abu Dhabi unlike in Dubai.  We were humbled by the fact that a couple of schools in the far far Western Region , Abu Dhabi more than 2 hours away came with their team. And they came back every day and what’s more, brought a busload of their students as well on the last day. We quickly tweeked our sessions to cater to their specific requirements on the final night at NAJAH. As I type I can see those faces in front of me , eager for information, guidance, full of enthusiasm, all of them  trying to find their Isigai.  It was a very humbling experience for me and my team.  We were so touched by the fact that the chairman and owner of one of the schools had come along to thank us personally.   My entire team was in our Isigai element making all the hard work so worth it and I believe it is this temperament that sets us apart from many others.
Find your element parents, find your Ikigai and nudge your children along the path of self discovery to discover theirs. Don’t forget to give us a shout out to us if you need help with that .


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