Many, many years ago, the words “Hi-Tech” were used to refer to innovations such as the wheel…or the spoon. Those were incredible inventions for that time. In modern times, when we are able to do things like make a plastic spoon in minutes from a 3-D printer, we take the fast paced, incredibly innovative nature of life for granted.
Times have changed, and
they will continue to change, with great implications for those of us who have experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury.
Technology and innovation, such as neuro-plasticity and Hyberbaric Chamber Therapy, have brought many benefits to us. However, sometimes innovation can cause our lives to be more difficult or complicated in ways we don’t always understand or acknowledge. The life we lead often leaves us at the mercy of a fast-paced society; even though technology has benefited us in some ways, there are drawbacks for those of us who have difficulty understanding or processing information quickly and cleanly, for example. A brain injury leaves many of us stuck in the muck while the world keeps on spinning; we find ourselves confused, angry and anxious as we work to rehabilitate and find our place in the world.
What can we do to prepare ourselves for the future; whatever it may bring?
If we want to understand what is happening and look into the future a bit, employment trends are a good signal for where society is going. From employment trends you can get a glimpse of the future lies by examining what sectors of the economy are strongest,where growth and change are happening, the kind of skills that are in demand, and how people are expected to perform.
One need look no further than the demands of one employer in particular, Google, to help us understand why we, those with a brain injury, are finding life in the world more difficult then we have in the past.
In a New York Times article, Thomas L. Friedman interviewed Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations. Bock said, “…the number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on-the-fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.”
The phrase used to describe what the world seems to be looking for, in terms if human resources, is people who are “Learning Agile”. Being “Learning Agile,” means that one has mental agility, self-awareness, people agility, change agility and results agility.
None of these are strong points for someone who has suffered a brain injury. You could almost say that the above represents a “negative” job description for us. In fact, they might as well have put up a sign saying, “Those with a brain injury need not apply” because you won’t be able to do the job.
The world is evolving, society is changing, and there is a great emphasis on brain power and brain flexibility. We, who are trying to regain our place in the world after brain injury, might not match up well with what society is looking for, but that doesn’t mean all is lost.
Google has, in a neat bundle, given us a list of things we cannot do or we struggle with. Thank you for that. Thank you for helping us define ourselves, and for pointing us in a direction where we can create our own success. Those things that define us by saying, “Here is a list of things you cannot do,” also opens up new opportunities to discovering what we can do, and leads the way to other things we want to do.
This may not be a definition we want to hear or enjoy hearing, but by defining our capabilities, Google is helping us understand ourselves better, creating challenges and helping us find our place in the world, as well as highlight what Traumatic Brain Injury is so others may be educated.
We now have a Madison Avenue-type marketing phrase that others can relate to and understand, which describes what is going on with us:
We are not “Learning Agile”
There it is in a nice, neat package. Having others understand what TBI is, and how it shows up in individuals like ourselves will help them advocate for us, as well as help us advocate for ourselves. It will help us define ourselves, define the battle we face, and push us in the direction of things we can do or want to try, and point out ways, both at work and in society, that we can be useful and successful. We are a smart, experienced population, with more ability than we sometimes realize. Many of us are just looking for a way to be integrated into society so we can make a place for ourselves.
The more we are able to define what is going on with us, the more informed our choices are, and the more successful we will be in our quest to live a fulfilled life.
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