Every generation attempts to solve the problems they perceive from the generation before. The problem is that they are NOT as diligent in learning the lessons. The result is that the next generation builds its solutions on semblances and shadows of knowledge rather than substantive competence. You see this evidenced in the ability we have to “appear” as though we are successful, competent, stable, or virtuous only for the curtain to be ripped away at the first experience of struggle. The solution is to obtain competence. The competence can only come from learning. Increase your knowledge by regularly feeding awareness, skills, and social networks. Approach learning NOT ONLY open to dealing with those problems you perceive, but expanding your knowledge about the nature of the world, its systems, and solutions that have already been attempted.
Consider the following generational charting. Think of the generation as a time when you were in adolescence in comparison with your parents.
|Generation||You Saw (as Adolescent)||Parents Saw||You Seek||Lessons Missed|
|50’s||War-based American Dream||The Toll of War||American Dream as a status symbol and my opportunity.|
|60’s||Challenge to the Status Quo||Threat to Public Decency||Social action to ensure the American Dream for everyone.||Political capital is as important as economic capital.|
|70’s||Creativity & Undeserving Poor||Opportunity to Create New Order||To be respected for the art no matter the compensation.||Creativity (and poverty) can benefit from thoughtful investment.|
|80’s||Expansion of Upper Class||Political Action and Community Stratification||Work for success as power to do what you love.||Work-Life balance requires emotional engagement.|
|90’s||Political Entrenchment of the Aristocracy||Natural Progression of Haves and Have-Nots||Money as success, power, and influence.||Outcomes are intentionally created.|
|2000||Global Competition||Politics as Gaming Increasingly by Corporations||To monetize a product on the global stage.||Sustainable choice requires political, economic, technological and social engagement.|
|2010||Global Conversation||Power as Influence in Small Spheres Hoping to become Global||To be heard for the sake of participating in the conversation.||Presence is more valued when purpose is articulated.|
Your Responsibility to Generation Now
Consider the lessons that you are neglecting to teach the next generation. I suspect that it is not just a matter of saying one thing and doing another. I fear that adults are not communicating directly and competently with adolescents today.
My point? As you are inspired to construct your presentation to adolescents, resist the urge to ONLY redress the problems you perceived from your parents. Also, consider the lessons that are important for you to learn, internalize, practice and articulate to adolescents. An effective college education can facilitate the learning of these lessons, but how much more competent will your children be if they can see them modeled and have them explained now?
[ Michael A. Wright is a leadership coach and org consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow @MAWMedia on Twitter or connect for a consultation at MAWMedia.com ]