When my 11-year old niece was visiting, one of the moments of entertainment was teaching her how to read a map. I got out the atlas in the car to show her some perspective of where the airport was vis a vis where I lived and it turned into a play-by-play accounting of the roads to take, the mileage and what town was coming next. Not being a driver, she has little need for maps or even GPS but from her novice perspective, it was quite fascinating that all the roads and cities were plotted out ahead of time.

Map reading is just one of the many foundational skills that are going by the wayside. My construction friend asked a young helper to read the tape measure and was dismayed to hear the answer as “5 and a third.” Anyone who knows about measurements knows that the marks are in quantities divisible by two – not in thirds – but apparently, ruler-reading has been dropped from the skill development repertoire.

The same is true for cursive writing, making change from the cash register when the machine fails to announce the proper amount to give, writing a check, addressing an envelope and a host of other life skills that once were commonplace.

While technology is wonderful, so is the knowledge that frees you from reliance on it. Take a moment to teach the young people with whom you interact the basics and keep the fundamentals from fading into oblivion.

at the University of Minnesota Post Office!

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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