Well, it was a busy weekend, and although I don't wear one of those fitness-tracking watches that count every step I take, I bet quite a lot of miles were covered. Now, before you start thinking I turned into a fitness fanatic and went hiking or did laps at the park, I'm talking about going from store to store. And at times, it felt like a scavenger hunt as my younger daughter tried to complete all her shopping for college so that she could then focus on packing for college.
Not all the miles covered were on foot, but driving from place to place meant dealing with countless parking lots, and my daughter and I felt like bunnies hopping in and out of the car. Which reminded me of when I was growing up (decades ago) and could do most of my shopping by going to a single destination – Sunrise Mall in Massapequa. (What makes me feel old is that when the mall opened in 1972, it was the first two-story shopping center on Long Island!)
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not doing that "in the good ole' days" thing where I'm finding fault with how shopping is today. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that it made me a little nostalgic for how things once were, especially when I think back to being a teenager. Weekend shopping at the mall was more of a social experience than it was about checking things off a shopping list. (Even then, I was a lover of lists.)
Fast forward to several years ago, and the concept of the shopping mall as a destination still existed. I can remember letting Natasha and Sawyer go shopping at the local First Colony Mall by themselves, giving them their first taste of independence. (Ok, so I "hung out" at a restaurant at the mall with a stack of reading material and had them check-in on a regular basis.)
By then, the shift to online shopping had already begun, and I could see it in the stores – they were less busy and some had gone out of business, and once-busy malls seemed more like ghost towns. Yet, I still preferred brick-and-mortar stores because I wanted to be able to see and touch things before I made a decision. But COVID-19 changed that. Dramatically.
People, like me, who had never really used online shopping, now were dependent on it. Previously, I'd never have considered buying groceries online (I'm not sure why I thought I needed to see and touch staples like toilet paper and laundry detergent) and restaurant delivery, which was unheard of not that long ago, was now the replacement "luxury" for going out to eat.
I can't help but wonder what the future holds for shopping, but was left speechless (not an easy thing to do) when I asked Black her thoughts,
I know you do not want a business explanation of how shopping habits have changed over the years, or details on the demise of the shopping mall. I will tell you that, over the years, I have gone through various stages of shopping – shopping to "prove" I was successful, shopping out of boredom, and shopping as a tourist when traveling. But, I can honestly say that I got the most enjoyment shopping last week … when Sawyer and I went to The Container Store to pick out things for her dorm room.
When Red first heard Black talking about the importance of "soft skills," she didn't even know what she was referring to, let alone that they would be important to her life. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe intangible but essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communications, and conflict management.
Red, trying to be sarcastic, then asked if there was such a thing as “hard skills,” Black matter-of-factly told her those are tangible and technical skills such as computer skills.
Of course, Black couldn’t pass up an opportunity for sarcasm and explained that although there’s consensus about the importance of soft skills, there’s debate about what they should be called, with her favorite being the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling them "21st Century Skills" – although she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.
But would anyone call them “Mom Skills”? Well, Red couldn’t help but remember the time Black told her, “Your job is every bit as demanding as a corporate position, and, in fact, you use many of the same skill sets.”Not something Red could ever have imagined, but it made sense once she better understood what soft skills are and how they are used. But then Black took it a step further,
Soft skills are transferable – between your personal life and the workplace (and from industry to industry). If you recognize that interpersonal relations have existed since Adam and Eve (or “caveman” days), and technical skills are constantly changing and there is no way to predict the careers of the future … it is easy to see why soft skills will always be needed.
It's funny, but now that Red’s familiar with soft skills, she not only recognizes them in day-to-day living but sees the impact they have (and the problems caused when they’re lacking). Our new website may not have SOFT SKILLS as a major section, but since it’s one of Black's passion projects, it will have a special place.
Until then, here are some of our favorite posts showing how soft skills affect us on a daily basis (OK, the Ferrari one about negotiating skills may not affect many people, but the message will):
- COLLEGE & SOFT SKILLS: My son’s going off to college but doesn’t know what he wants to study …
- COMMUNICATION: How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points?
- CUSTOMER SERVICE: RED & BLACK … May I Help You?
- LEADERSHIP: RED & BLACK … Leaders All Around Us
- MOM SKILLS: Translating Mom Responsibilities
- PERSUASION SKILLS: The Fact Is … Don’t Use Facts
- NEGOTIATING SKILLS: A Perfect Day For A Convertible. And For Chutzpah.
- PROBLEM-SOLVING: One Person’s Problem … Is Another’s Challenge?!
- SPOT THE SOFT SKILLS: Selfish, Shallow … And Svelte?
Red was your typical straight-A student, getting great grades starting in kindergarten straight through to graduating from college.(Black’s grades were less than stellar, plus she was a discipline problem – some things never change.) And then, excited and proud of herself, Red thought she was done. Black, on the other hand, thinks of education as something that never ends, and much to the chagrin of students, will tell them,
Homework never ends; it just is called “research” when you get older.
Over the last few years, Red has come around to Black’s way of thinking and realizes it’s a mindset. And that education is more than the classes you take in school.
September is when students of all ages are back in school, but it’s also National Literacy Month, which is about so much more than reading and writing. Literacy includes things like Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even News Literacy. (As the linked Conversation Starters indicate, Red was the “poster child” of a highly educated person who lacked many of these basic literacy skills.)
So, we challenge you to find a topic that interests you or one you could benefit from learning (personally or professionally) and start doing your homework.
And while not a homework assignment, we figure if you’re still reading, you might be interested in some of our favorite “lifelong learning” posts (many of which helped Red learn about learning in a whole new way).
For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer (temperatures aside), and as we switch from a summer holiday mindset back to the “real world”, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.
You don’t need us to tell you how falling back into a work or school routine can be challenging, especially if you’re facing a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the “silly season” is just around the corner. (Red has been seeing Halloween decorations since mid-July, which means Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays aren’t far behind.)
But you don’t need us to tell you why you feel overwhelmed; you need help dealing with being overwhelmed.
When our new website goes live next year, one of the major sections will be THE DAILY HELP, where you’ll find easy-to-implement tools to get your day back on track and feel more in control.
But that doesn’t help you … NOW. So, here are a handful of our favorite posts to help you deal with daily challenges we all face. (Red admits that she picked the ones she felt she needed to reread.)
- Black’s Time Management “Secret” ... Is Worth Repeating (Time Management)
- It's happened again ... I can’t see my desk there’s so much paper on it. Help! (Piles of Paper)
- How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points? (Communication)
- Expect Reality, Not Perfection (Relationships)
- Don’t Confuse Time Alone With Time Away! (Stress)
P.S. – Wondering why we haven’t mentioned money? Well, stay tuned, as we’ll have a post dedicated to DOLLARS & SENSE in early November as we get closer to the holidays. (FYI, our subscribers get sneak peeks before we post online.)