I don’t know about you, but I’m frustrated. The more I look around, the more I see young people not being able to tolerate struggle and adults who believe its their duty to remove struggle from the lives of young people. It’s ridiculous.
Let’s start with young people (ages 14-22). They are growing up in an informational age; that’s not their fault. Their life has always included instant responses: ‘likes’, ‘tweets’, ‘check-ins’, etc. They have also grown up in a culture that suddenly began to believe that kids are incredibly fragile. Sports where no one keeps score and everyone gets a trophy. Schools that focus on numbers and don’t incorporate social and emotional development; results over substance. Other clubs and events where everyone is considered ‘good enough’ even though many just may not be. This is their expectation, experience, and perspective. And its not their fault.
That takes me to the adults who have perpetuated this craziness. Many employers complain that the number one quality missing from their young workforce is a lack of initiative. But if kids are growing up in a world where they aren’t pushed to take risks, do something bigger than themselves, potentially fail at something incredibly important to them, why in the world would they eventually take a risk in the workplace? Taking initiative and risk is developing grit; the intangible skill that allows someone to take a risk, be prepared to succeed or fail, and regardless of the outcome, to keep moving forward.
As adults, culture is making us have to actively teach grit. In the past, when life wasn’t instantaneous, kids had to experience delayed gratification. If a kid wanted to be with their friends but was out with their parents, they’d have to wait until they got home where maybe the phone would ring. And how jealous kids would be of those who had an answering machine! Delayed gratification was a part of life, and research tells us that those that master that concept have a higher degree of success in life than those that don’t. Adults must actively teach perseverance and grit through any and all avenues they have available because we can’t trust culture to do it like it used to.