Today I watched the [Grade Four] children [at London Waldorf School] doing the Maypole dance. As it happens, right before the dance I was chatting with another “IT parent” about tectonic shifts the industry is going through and how it is very unclear which skills are going to be in demand.

The clarity came when during one of the dances the kids got themselves into a bad tangle. You can appreciate how easy it is – someone makes a small faux pas, someone else gets confused and does not react quickly and nimbly enough. The next moment the pole is a total mess of entangled ribbons – and the music is playing, and the parents are watching, and no genius in the world could untangle that knotty mess they’ve gotten themselves into…

Sounds like a day at work doesn’t it?

The way the children coped was brilliant. Instead of looking to the teacher, or going into fight/flight/freeze, each looked at their ribbon and figured out which direction to go to untangle it. Each kid did that several times and super-fast they were back to the pole all sorted out.

My small epiphany – this is the skill-set for the future: take ownership of the part you can control, figure out what to improve, negotiate with teammates involved, do it, repeat. Don’t wait for the omniscient and omnipotent leadership, don’t waste time on blaming the system or imposter syndrome.

The moment when the kids untangled was probably the most emotional, the audience cheered and applauded. Even more so perhaps than it would for a flawless performance. I don’t have a crystal ball of course, but these students are getting the right skills, they’ll do well.

Dimitri Popolov, a LWS parent