Monday, March 27, 2017

Your Kids and Their Future

I've read a couple of good articles over the last week that I wanted to share.
There is a lot of talk about millennials and their shortcomings.  I think most of what is said is unfair (but if you agree with that talk, I would gently ask - who raised them?)  I recall when I was parenting that I was startled at this "everyone gets a gold star" or "everyone gets a 'participation' trophy."  Kids aren't dumb; they know very well when it's a pat on the back for effort versus real achievement.  (Just to note that for some kids, being on a team and seeing an entire season thru IS an achievement.)

A couple of months back, I had an opportunity to speak at length with two young women - about 23 - and boy, was I impressed.  They are very mindful people who are trying to self-encourage themselves to meet their goals.  They have Twitter and Instagram accounts and use them in service to those goals.  But they also worry - at 23 - if they have done enough.  Have they created their "brand" and shouldn't they have more followers or be more entrepreneurial?  I was astonished that they were so hard on themselves at such a young age.

So to the articles.  One is by Krista O'Reilly Davi-Dig and is called What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?  She opens her essay this way:

What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between? Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?

This might be something to talk to your kids about - not "what do you want to be" but "what kind of life do you want?"  Or "what kind of person do you want to be?"

The other op-ed is from the New York Times and it's by Susan Cain; it's called Not Leadership
Material? Good. The World Needs Followers.  (bold mine)

Today we prize leadership skills above all, and nowhere more than in college admissions. As Penny Bach Evins, the head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, an independent school in Maryland, told me, “It seems as if higher ed is looking for alphas, but the doers and thinkers in our schools are not always in front leading.”

Yet a well-functioning student body — not to mention polity — also needs followers. It needs team players. And it needs those who go their own way.

It needs leaders who are called to service rather than to status.

But a discipline in organizational psychology, called “followership,” is gaining in popularity. Robert Kelley, a professor of management and organizational behavior, defined the term in a 1988 Harvard Business Review article, in which he listed the qualities of a good follower, including being committed to “a purpose, principle or person outside themselves” and being “courageous, honest and credible.” It’s an idea that the military has long taught.

We also rely as a society, much more deeply than we realize, on the soloists who forge their own paths. We see those figures in all kinds of pursuits: in the sciences; in sports like tennis, track and figure skating; and in the arts. Art and science are about many things that make life worth living, but they are not, at their core, about leadership.

The two essays remind me of this song. 


SusanH said...

Thank you for these articles, Melissa. I needed to read both of these today! Good food for thought.

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