Don't tell your children to play it safe.
By Glen Gerreyn
I recently visited a school whose academic results are some of the best in the state. When chatting to teachers over lunch, it was explained to me many of the parents within their school community tell their children, “They can pursue whatever they like at University, as long as it is Medicine, Accountancy or Law.” Of course not every parent from this particular school wants this, but it’s a commonly held notion large enough to warrant a mention.
From my experience speaking in over five hundred schools I would concur with this belief. There does exist a substantial amount of parents whom for whatever reason, believe certain careers are more worthy to pursue than others. They deem these options as the finest and safest routes for their children to earn an appropriate income and provide proper status for their families.
Yet in 2016, in this ecosphere of opportunity and era of abundance, where we compete on a level playing field in so many diverse ways, we must address why many still hold out-dated views and expectations for the pathways to success for their children.
The speed of change, the rise of technology, the increase in exponential growth divisions and the move from local to global thinking means our thinking must begin to align with this very different epoch.
Our current cohort of young people is the first generation in history to see the world’s first billionaire author in J.K Rowling. Together we have witnessed the rise of the world’s first billionaire talk show host in Oprah Winfrey, the world’s original social media platform founder in Mark Zuckerberg and the first tycoon app creator, in Evan Spiegel, who at 24 is the youngest ever billionaire thanks to ‘Snapchat’. I have the pleasure of knowing a fashion blogger who today earns more than most surgeons. Seven years ago she sat in one of my Day of Hope seminars and attributes the birth and action of her dream to that very day. Despite all this, archaic mindsets of ‘safe’ careers still flourish in our society.
A young person today with a smartphone has hardware and software built into that device which would have cost their parents $1,000,000 in the 1980’s. Think about the access young people have to video conferencing capabilities, HD video cameras, GPS and voice memos, smartphone watch displays every available time zone, calendars, productivity tools, music players, word processors, encyclopaedias and access to millions of people via social media channels. With the click of a button libraries of thousands of free books and catalogues of free music are on hand. Young people today have a $1,000,000 in their pocket which can enable them to build a ‘start up’, create a following or begin a movement of change. Young people today are living in an age of lavishness of choice and technology.
Thousands of years ago only Kings and Queens, Emperors and Pharaohs were the ones who were large and in charge and had the ability to lead and act on behalf of others. Hundreds of years ago it was the Industrialists who prospered. But today literally anyone in an old dusty garage or from their bedroom still displaying Superman or Elsa sheets, can build a platform that transforms communities around the world.
Recently I was invited to participate on a popular TV show and the question put to the panel was “Should you tell your kids they can be whatever they want?” The other panel members said a resounding “No!” “You shouldn’t tell your kids they can be whatever they want because of the hurt or disappointment they will feel if they fail”. My take was somewhat different. I believe failure is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Something we need to teach our kids (and ourselves) that failure is not fatal. We have to stop acting like it is. The worst thing that can happen to us is boredom because we settle for mediocrity. This is what we need to teach our kids.
Sadly people play it safe, miss opportunities to live out their passions and end up bored and discontent adults. I truly believe life is hard. Whether you pursue your dream or not, you will encounter seasons of loss, disruption, and pain. Would you agree? So with that thinking, since life is going to be hard anyway, why not spend your days pursuing and encouraging others to do those things they are truly passionate about, those things that will add verve, energy and flow to their world. Let’s leave Medicine, Accountancy and Law to those with the intuitive gifts to heal, reconcile and defend. Life is too short to act out of fear or because others told you to. #YOLO