Too much good advice

Have you ever noticed that, from a very young age, we are truly inundated with advice and “guidance?” Now I admire the animal kingdom when it comes to giving counsel and life skills. The mother lion, for example, when instructing her cubs has killed and eaten prey before. Failure to do so results in simple Darwinian (1) selection: you die and don’t have any incompetent progeny. These hard earned skills have been passed on through generation after generation by the removal of the weaker and less intelligent members, thereby allowing the superior beast to survive and multiply. One would almost believe that Gaia really is in control of the Earth for without the hardiness of most species, human beings would have wiped them out eons ago.

This sadly is not the case with parents and caregivers. Each person who stumbles into this category begins afresh. There is nothing in our DNA that has genetically prepared us to be responsible for children, in my estimation. We are on our own: talk about critical thinking skills and the lack there of. Soon we are called on to proffer advice and direction. We extend our opinions in total ignorance because the world has moved on by at least one generation, sometimes two, depending on the parent’s age. We are stating ideas that are old and stale, but we think they are current and insightful: hence our modern predilection to control our children. “Tell me high school students, is this true? Of course it is!” The result is a worldwide crew of sallow misanthropes with little desire to engage in the living world. Why would 43% of young people under the age of twenty-five not have a job, or have an inferior one that is little more than wage slavery? (2) Of course it is partially true that the changing economic reality is generating less and less “jobs” in the traditional sense. What is really happening, however, is much more pernicious: Generation Y is too smart and too entitled. It does not want to “put in the effort” to acquire the necessary 10,000 hours of experience to achieve the beginnings of expertise. Why? The simple answer is that they don’t believe they have to: the Internet tells them that everything is achieved effortlessly. Harsh reality steps into play after the third or fourth failed attempt at securing a successful position. (3) Many, I read, are branching out into the entrepreneurial world. Here with little effort and limited investment there is a substantial salary with benefits: a shocking lie. (4) The resulting “slap in the face” usually scars a person for life: the non-communicative clerk or government worker is the result. You can taste the bitterness.

Fortunately, this does not have to be the case: this is not the proscribed lot of the Millennial. To evade this spiritual tragedy, however, we, as parents, have to be educated in the realities of the modern world. The first and most important lesson is that the market place does not care about your degree(s); it deeply cares about your passion and commitment to you and your career, whatever that is. So, you must find a career not a job. The second bit of wisdom is that you need to spend time to nurture your vocation. You cannot come out of theoretical training, such as realized at a university, and secure a top-notch position. Learn to go to work for years at relatively low pay, and then the results may flow. Read the biography of Dame Hadid for some thoughtful insight. (5) The final chestnut is, “Be excited with life”: it is your one and only life in this reality. If you are not excited with your life, no one else will be! The adoption of these three basic tenets will revolutionize the job market. Failure to do so will hurl the economic train further along its ever weakening trestle. Nothing good can result. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 and Western Europe only began to show signs of rebirth with the crowning of Charlemagne in 800: some 11 generations of humanity had passed in total chaos. Luckily, our efforts and critical thinking skills can preclude these results. The great educator Sir Ken Robinson leaves us with a thought: The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions. … Creativity is as important as literacy.

A small joke: Bill liked playing the guitar, but he was not very good. He convinced some of his friends to practice with him once a week in his parents’ apartment. Their screeching and wailing produced the to-be-expected result. In short order, there was a knock at the door requesting, rather forcefully that they, “Turn the noise down!” This was the regular scenario for many weeks. Then one day there was a slight tap at the door. Bill went and opened it and returned to the living room in an excited state. “Guys, guys,” he exclaimed. “We must be playing better. The neighbor just politely asked me to turn the radio down!”      

This week, please contemplate what a real education means.  

Every day look for something magical and beautiful.

Quote: Unless we all begin to awaken, both spiritually and educationally, mankind will soon experience unnecessary intellectual pain and unwarranted economic suffering: the choice is up to each of us.   


1) Darwinism

2) Youth employment crisis easing but far from over

3) Young workers staying at jobs for only 1.3 years

4) Most young people want to be their own boss: survey

5) Dame Zaha Hadid obituary