Growing Young Leaders
I’ve talked to several parents recently who have adult children living at home, unemployed and directionless. A current report confirms that for the first time in modern history, the most popular living arrangement for 18-34 year old young adults is living at home with their parents. Frequently these are young adults who have completed a college degree but who are unable or unwilling to find employment. Parent reactions range from enabling to frustrated. What happened that these students, now young adults did not develop the characteristics necessary to develop into leaders who could not only take charge of their own world but could add something to improving the world at large?
What went wrong?
I believe that we have raised the expectations of children without teaching them the skills necessary to accomplish those expectations. Many times we have provided them with a life full of material things and pleasurable experiences but free of challenges and hardships that teach the strategies necessary to set and accomplish goals. These are lessons learned in the early childhood years.
I recently attended a business association meeting where scholarships were given to some of the top high school seniors in the area. The accomplishments of these young people were impressive They not only had grade point averages that were off the charts but they logged in an impressive number of service hours in local charities, excelled at sports academics, and/or the creative arts. They were valedictorians and class presidents. They created organizations and began movements around issues they were passionate about. They won awards. Some even had full scholarships to West Point or well known universities. These were examples of students who demonstrated great leadership qualities and who had the potential to use those qualities to develop themselves as well as change the world for the better.
What personal qualities are necessary to be a leader in today’s world? What are some of the important lessons that these young people learned and practiced to be leaders in their own lives?
Four Qualities of Leaders
- In a society that values convenience and ease, leaders learn to value effort. They are not put off by hard work. They believe that a goal worth doing is a goal worth expending energy to accomplish. They don’t expect success to be easy.
- In a society that values speed and velocity, leaders learn the value of patience and focused determination. Achieving personal goals is a slow process that takes sustained personal effort. Leaders learn to put off gratification now for the reward in the future. They don’t expect to be an overnight success.
- In a society that values continual entertainment and pleasure-seeking, leaders learn the value of hard work and follow through even when the process itself is not rewarding. They have embraced the fact that achievement of any goal involves many moments of discomfort and hardship.
- Finally, in a society where entitlement and expectation of success without effort is the norm, leaders learn to be risk takers who take failure in stride. They are not put off by the possibility of rejection or defeat but instead see it as an opportunity to learn how to be successful in the future.
Our challenge as parents and educators is to offer support to our children while encouraging the development of autonomy and responsibility. Equipping young adults with the necessary skills to be leaders in their lives will prepare them for a successful future.
School Counseling Resources to Grow Leaders
Stuff Parents Want to Know: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
In twenty years of school counseling I’ve been asked a lot of questions. This eBook is a compilation of some of the most common ones along with some effective strategies and books you can read with your child to address the problem.
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