The Future. What Will We Tell Our Children?
People that lead fulfilling and successful lives usually have a clearly defined and fully personalized mission, vision, and purpose. They build their success with a comprehensive set of life skills that bring success to virtually any career. Here is the rub. Many people are unwilling to learn the very skills that will make them more successful because they are frightening. The graduates of our programs are motivated to grow because they are designed such a clear mission they are motivated to get through any discomfort they encounter on the road to success. When we began in 1990, the mission and skills were essential for people who wanted to be happy. Over time, it has become clear that our greatest difficulty isn’t external change, it is changing ourselves. Twenty years ago, we were helping our clients and participants elicit one big positive change. Today, the cycles are coming so quickly that learning the skills of change are just as important if we are holding “just another job” or our life’s work.
What does that mean for our children?
What do we tell our children?
And, what is the bloody point?
When we were kids, our parents held jobs for longer periods of time. As the cycles of change come in steeper and steeper waves, the life skills that I propose require a certain degree of courage to adopt. Here is a quick and crude laundry list. To raise the bar, to succeed more quickly, we need to be able to embrace consultative sales. We also need the ability to present to small groups of people and, if necessary, larger groups. We must also understand how to influence others and connect in ways that matter. Modern and successful careerists, as well as business owners, learn how to build the kind of support systems that match their every changing mission, vision, and purpose. It is also extremely valuable to routinely step out of the modern frenzy to define and modify our own growth.
None of these skills are being taught in our school systems. To extend the point, take two first-year attorneys. They are equally skilled with the law. Which one will make partnership? And yet, we cannot find a higher education institution that requires sales training and social networking skills as part of the curriculum. Our children will step into a world where success will be based on their ability to draw healthy and effective attention to themselves. They will need to constantly modify and build their support systems. The will learn how to get other people to help them. Our school systems are not teaching these skills because they require courage. I recently mentioned new life skills to an educational group and they responded, “Oh, we have started to teach life skills to our high school students. For example, we are teaching them how to balance a checkbook.”
I responded, “They will not have much to balance if they don’t learn how to sell themselves and get the right people to help them.”
This morning, I was working with a client who left a c-level position to launch his own business. In his first year, he made more money with the new venture than he made as a chief human resource officer. Now, we are working on a high-quality problem – scaling the business. A year ago, I told him if he was going to pursue his real ambition, that he would have to learn how to sell, build partnerships, and ask for help. It was frightening and uncomfortable. But, he kept building his skills and is now a powerhouse.
If we are not willing to build these skills into our own lives, what do we tell our children? If we don’t tell them to try something else we are leading by example.
Years ago, I interviewed Jack Canfield for my first book, The Truth About Work.I asked what he did to prepare his two sons for the world of work. He responded, “I told them to do something they loved. I never tried to control that. Instead, I put all of my energy in instilling in them a kind of confidence where they knew they could deal with anything the world dishes out to them.” That confidence came out of developing rock-solid people skills.
Today, we must tell our children they are stepping into a new and exciting world. They will change far more quickly than we did. If they learn to develop connectivity with others, to grow their empathy and creativity, to really think and create, to learn how to ask for the right kind of help, they can do whatever they want to do. Unfortunately, there are many parents today that have become so cynical about the future, they tell their children the world coming towards them will not have as much opportunity as they were given.
As technological advancement continues to speed up, extraordinary opportunities emerge for our children. But if we settle for self-obsolescence, do we tell our children to follow suit? Do we say, “Don’t do what I did? You are stepping into a new world?” Or, “I’m learning how to deal with change myself, perhaps we can learn together?” Or, “Dark days are ahead?”
Cathy Sandeen, the Chancellor for the University of Wisconsin has been studying the impact of change on education. She tells us that, “Well over half the jobs that will exist in ten years have yet to be invented. There isn’t a greater need for the nation’s parents to be snapping out rigid outlooks, to learn how to change their own lives, and, transforming the way they prepare their children for that world.
Perhaps the most powerful impact a parent can have on a child is in role modeling and setting their expectations. All of our participants move me in ways I could never anticipate. But, the ones that really grab hold of my heart are the parents who are the breadwinners. Perhaps they are making a very good living but are deeply dissatisfied with the work. There is a special brand of courage in realizing that by not being fulfilled and happy with their work, they are sending a terrible message to their children. It takes real commitment to take the positive action to define the work they were born to do and to develop the willingness to do whatever it takes to take care of the financial and parental needs of their children. For those that have decided to change, I’ve watched them trade in jobs where they worked 60 hours a week for nothing more than improving shareholder value for work that feeds their souls and their personal lives.
I’m not suggesting this is easy. It is necessary. As technology absorbs task-driven work, we are given more freedom to do what we love. But, if you end up in one of my programs, it will be to define what you love and to do it with the life skills to be more successful than ever.
If you are a parent or someone who influences children and this story unnerves you, we are at a critical time in shifting our vision from the past to a successful future. This is not the time to lower the expectations of our children. It is time to raise them and to give them the skills that will make them successful – on their terms, not ours.
Everything I am sharing is learnable. It is doable. On this one topic, there are no excuses.
Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.
(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)
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