I didn't have that much of a big night out, but seriously...come on! I thought adults were supposed to be responsible and awesome and I well...felt the same!
I have come to the conclusion that every parent, adult, teacher, youth worker, manager...they are just the very same 16, 18, 20 year olds in an older person's body. No big transformation exists! No Easter Bunny, Santa Clause or Tooth Fairy came to transform me - I still looked the same, I FELT the same.
I have used the same techniques in numerous speeches where I get adults in any given audience to remember what it was like to be a teenager, or a young person, and the only thing everyone always agrees to is that the only difference between how they used to be and how they are now was the sense of absolute freedom they felt. It's interesting though, because as an adult, we have more responsibility - for ourselves and others. But isn't the whole point of having freedom that we have more responsibility? Were we more responsible when we were younger if we feel we have less freedom than we did back then? Or is it the feeling of no consequences that fades as we age?
All these are valid questions, but the one thing I'm starting to feel kicking in is the hope I have in the world. When you get older, we feel more hope, more opportunity to change the world. Partly because we are allowed to do more things, but isn't hope something that every human being on Earth should have?
Time and time again, I make sure to share with my audiences the grim future that was painted for me at primary school: the two divorces I was apparently prone to as a young person living in today's world, and the 15+ career changes I was expected to go through. Now, I'm all for teachers being honest with us as kids right from the beginning, but the one thing they forgot to instil and paint for us at school was hope. The one thing that will keep us going through the tough times; the hope for a better future. When you look at all the possibilities, it's exciting that there are numerous ‘things' we will go through during our lives, but at the same time, it instils a feeling of insecurity of our futures. With the expectations of many changes, how are we supposed to grasp the concept of goal setting, and more importantly the concept of goal achieving when we are told the rules are going to change so many times on us, that we will never have a feeling of security?
I guess the reason I write this is because youth cannot go as far as they can if there is no adult support. And as an adult, there is so much support you can give us just by instilling hope. Try it - let's have a look at a number of options.
If you are a parent or teacher, instilling hope means supporting us through the good and bad times. Every parent wants to do this - I'm not saying they don't. But the way you can help show that there is hope is by reassuring us; your kids that whatever we want to achieve, we need to stick at it. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was really little. By then though, my dreams were doomed. School told me there is no point in striving for something that was already possible. Great. OK, fair enough. But the way they went about giving me other options (or in this case option) was to try a career in animation. 3D animation was the ‘it' thing back then, and all the teachers were enthralled that this had become a job, so it almost seemed like it was their mission that we all needed to become little ‘animationists' because that was the way of the future. Ding dong! It's now 2011 and that is not the hottest or newest job anymore. The world will keep changing, but don't just try get your kids involved with the latest trend - that is almost a formula for them to fail. Look at me now - if I had followed the advice I was given, I would just be finishing my studies, looking for a job in an over-stocked market. I'm not suggesting I would have been the world's best astronaut, but hey, who knows - if I had stuck at it, I could have been the first New Zealander into space (by the way, there hasn't been one YET), so although I was like what, 8 years old, that dream was dead in the water. So be careful how you pose your support. Make sure you are giving us hope through the support - not by shutting down our ideas.
OK, say you're not related to a young person - say you are a manager, or some high exec, and it's your job to mentor some new employees. How do you instill hope in them? They are likely to be at the higher end of teen years, or even over 20 - so how can hope become alive in these ‘kids'?
A popular technique for employers is to sit a young intern or employee down and draw up a 5 year plan. OK. Do you remember what you were like when you were 20? Wasn't the only thing you knew you'd be in 5 years time was OLD? How about going at it from a different approach - ask what they want to achieve in the industry. They may have no idea, they may have some idea, or they may have already made their own plan. No matter where on the scale of assurance they are, you can help by showing them some options, and offer advice around how they can get to wherever they want to go. I think many young people think in achievements rather than years in today's world. It's possible to slice 3 years at University into 2 years - anything is possible in today's world, so it may be your way of thinking that a 5 year plan is best, but we have grown up with speed, and the best way to instill hope in the fact that we have a future, and better yet, a future in your industry is to let us know that there are pathways we can take to achieve whatever we are there to achieve, or at the very least that there are people that can help us decide what we want to achieve.
How do you instill hope in the young generations?
I have a hope for my future, and for the future of this world in general because of all the wonderful adults that have helped me gain this, and I hope that the young people who's lives you touch - today and in future can attain this. And while thinking about this, maybe you also need to ask yourself - how bright do you see YOUR future? And do you trust it (the future, I mean :))