I’m waiting to board the plane back to LA and working on our new book that will help families prepare their children for the future of work. In a world where the average college graduate will change careers four to six times, everything in how we engage with our children is up for grabs. The transformative change ahead means that rather than telling our children what to do with their lives that we must help them define what they want to do, even what they were born to do, and build the life skills to succeed in that vision.
In the guest lounge, I’m absorbed in a narrative that has captured the minds and hearts of my co-author and other members of our team. The man next to me has been quietly working for past hour and is having a coffee. Suddenly, he interrupts me.
“You are working so intensely on that document, would it be rude of me to ask what it is?”
I tell him and his face floods with love and fear. He tells me of his daughter. He’s badgered her about what she wants to do with her life. He says, “We’ve been at war for almost two years.”
I ask, “What does she want to do?”
“She wants to study marine biology.”
“What is wrong with that?”
“Well, there are so many careers where she could make more money and have a brighter future.”
“You are probably doing the same thing your parents did with you.”
There is a period of intense silence, he looks up and I witness the surrender as he opens his mouth. He asked, “I’m wrong, aren’t I?”
I respond, “Yes, you are.”
“What shall I do?”
“Go home and tell her you were wrong to imply ‘Don’t be you.’ Go home and tell her that you love what she wants to do with her life because it is honorable and good. Tell her she is going to become a wonderful marine biologist. Tell her it isn’t your place to tell her what to do with her life but as her father, you will do your very best to help her understand how to succeed.”
The hostess comes over to remind him his flight is ready. He turns at the door and looks at me as if he has seen a ghost. For a flash his eyes well up, face flushed he mouths the words, “Thank you.”
I realize I will never see him again.
There is an older Lesbian couple in the seats ahead of me. They are celebrating retirement with a first class trip to Costa Rica.
The guy next to me resembles a Shaman.
I’m looking out the window as the lakes and rivers speed below.
I think of her.