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The seeds of good governance: Highlights of the Skills Lab on Personal Governance

One cannot govern others without first learning how to govern themselves. The Institute of Solidarity (ISA) in Asia’s Skills Lab on Personal Governance is designed to hone outstanding individual models of good governance, armed with personal and professional development strategies that prepare them to adapt to our tumultuous, ever-changing society. Guided by the sagacity of ISA Vice Chairman Rex C. Drilon, sixteen delegates from the health sector were trained in developing growth strategies for delivering peak performance, achieving self-mastery, and remaining focused on life goals. The training sessions were structured into three modules, spread out from August 5-6, 2021. 

Mr. Drilon opened the course by defining the key concept of governance, breaking it down into the family, school, enterprise, public, and personal levels. Each unit of governance ties into values—these are forged in the family, reinforced in school, and practiced in the government and enterprises. 

“We should never forget that the ultimate and final governance unit is the individual,“ said Mr. Drilon, referencing a quote from ISA founder Dr. Jesus Estanislao, “Much greater attention should be given to making the individual truly the ultimate governance asset. And that is what we are doing in our Skills Lab today.”

However, the individual’s capacity for governance is challenged by the rapid technology-driven changes that constantly rack society, such as the internet invasion, the information explosion, and globalization. Mr. Drilon summarized the major disruptions in human history by outlining the three Economic Ages: the Agricultural Age, the Industrial Age, and the Information Knowledge Age. The transition between each age was facilitated by a significant cultural or technological shift that resulted in a worldwide crisis. 

“But there are two sides to a crisis: danger and opportunity,” said Mr. Drilon, “On one hand, you have anxiety, fear, confusion, and loss of control. On the other hand, you have excitement, growth, innovation, and profitability.”

Further contributing to this change-driven disequilibrium are organizational disruptions. Each of the Economic Ages maintained a different organizational structure — from the pyramid-like model of the Agricultural Age to the matrix of the authority of the Information Knowledge Age. The transition from hierarchical models to network or team-based systems is a difficult one; organizational structures now challenge individuals to balance both interdependence and autonomy. 

“In the old days, the individual was inside the management structure. But in the new age, the management structure is inside the individual,” said Mr. Drilon. 

Another significant stimulant of crisis is what Mr. Drilon calls the values gap: the difference between one’s vision for their life and the reality that one is facing. This dissonance creates tension on both the personal and societal levels.

“On the personal level, this creates disequilibrium because you are not getting what you want out of life,” said Dr. Drilon, “On the societal level, it’s even worse. The 21st-century values are power, material pleasures, and an obsession with technical efficiency. These contradict the timeless values of truth, beauty, goodness, and love.”

These catalysts of crisis — rapid technology-driven change, organizational disruption, and the values gap — culminate in the individual burden of stress. To address this, Mr. Drilon presented his survival guide of strategies for stress management, navigating modern society, and acting as a governance asset. He counseled the participants to develop a Personal Roadmap (including a Personal Charter Statement, Goals and Objectives, and Balanced Scorecard), define success with balance, and manage their life with the best tools. 

Mr. Drilon emphasized the necessity of translating key objectives in the Roadmap to concrete measures in the Scorecard: “It is very important to convert your strategy map into a scorecard. Whatever framework you’re using in your PGS journey may also be used in your personal scorecard.”

Each of the participants was given the opportunity to craft their own Personal Roadmaps and Personal Scorecards under the mentorship of Mr. Drilon. During this workshop segment, Mr. Drilon gave valuable comments on the participants’ work, applying his insight and experience to guide them in fine-tuning their Roadmaps and Scorecards. 

To conclude the fruitful course, Mr. Drilon imparted a few final words of wisdom: “We must regain control of our lives, the key is balance and single-mindedness or focus. The change begins with yourself. I hope that I’ve created enough tension within each and every one of you, that you will strive to change. To live a more productive, balanced, meaningful, and quality life. A life of integrity.” 

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