Updated: October 28, 2019 11:15:54 am
— Shilpa Singh
“What use is this dancing? Music won’t get you anywhere. Sports is good to let off steam, but you need to stop playing and start studying. Your scores are all that really matter. Model United Nations? This is just a gimmick, a waste of academic time, we will have to speak to the school about this.”
Some of you may be nodding along because you have heard this. Or because you have said these very words. What really matters when it comes to success — marks, grades, scores, ranking? Is it even worth investing time in these activities, except to take a break from academics? When you take up anything that excites you, interests you or makes you feel good, learning is exponentially higher. And it teaches you critical skills to help you succeed in life.
Let’s start with the basics. What are these fancy skills you need? Frankly, they are not that fancy. But they are essential. Teamwork, learning and being able to learn new things, communicating effectively, listening, negotiating, empathising, big-picture thinking and detail orientation, critical thinking and analysis.
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So, where do you go about learning all these things? Well, you most likely already have these skills. And you can thank all your extracurricular activities for them.
In our academic time in school, we learn important skills and gain knowledge about a variety of subjects. We then quantify how much of our subjects we remember when we give our exams. But how do we quantify what we learn in music, sports, MUN or dance?
Speaking of sports and dance specifically, both these teach you stamina (being able to dance/play for long hours), teamwork (working with other people such as teammates or musicians or choreographers); communication (giving clear instructions, asking questions for clarity); listening skills (listening to teammates, dance instructors to the music or the whistle); attention to detail (making sure you know your timing or your part in making the shot happen); strategy (planning to know who to pass to or how to maximise the stage space). Interestingly, these are also skills one needs in law, journalism, teaching or management.
In the world that exists today and for the next many years, the extremely fast-paced change will be a constant. Routine tasks will be automated, even more so than now. Therefore, what will spell success are these skills that will set you apart. They will help you learn, imagine and connect. And they will be combined with your subject knowledge, be the winning combination.
So, the next time someone asks if your extra-curricular matter, make sure to tell them that they not only matter, they are critical.
— The author is a career counsellor at Metamorphosis coaching consulting training
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