Thursday, May 22, 2008

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

While the Babyboomers are rekindling their summer of love spirit as they ease into retirement, Generation Ipod is getting it's first at bat of the real world. The outcome? They struck out swinging in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded.

The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. Unfortunately that generation, myself included, has a huge cliche of a flaw: they are utterly unprepared for the real world, or at least the world our parent's generation is leaving to us. Mostly because we were never allowed to fail.

Everybody gets a trophy. First place, last place -- doesn't matter. Everybody is a winner, everybody gets to play and it doesn't really matter what happens as long as you have fun.

Go to a Little League game sometime and watch the parents wearing the specially made T-shirts with their kid's name and number on the back. Kids are kids, and adults are kids. Child worship has created a generation of parents who go through life fearing rejection.

Our kids can't fail, and they can't be exposed to disappointment. If our kids are disappointed, then we have failed as their keepers.

If they do fail, we'll just change the language of failure until it becomes success.

And oh, by the way, there's no such thing as a mistake. We now call that a good try.

We send them into the world with bellies full of self-esteem and nothing to back it up. Years of being conditioned to feel good about themselves with no accomplishments required eventually breeds a feeling of entitlement.

It's a culture of acceptance, and that's why it's an unpopular argument to suggest a guy with carbon-fiber legs shouldn't be allowed to compete in the Olympics. You don't win many points coming down against a legless runner. [read more][]

While that story is written in the context of sports, it's implications are universal. Business and recent culture have what appears to be a very explosive intersection looming in the near future.

Don't get me wrong. The members of the rising generation are not complete failures. They seem to be able to compensate what they lack in general work ethic/ life experience with being tech savvy. The intuitiveness this generation has in regards to the digital paradigm allows them to be the lead innovators of the digital age. Facebook, Google, Napster: all created basically by college students.

While I agree with author Tim Keown and his sentiments on a philosophical flaw on how this generation was raised, I do think most are quick to label the America's newest workforce as sub-par. Perhaps they are entitled and lazy, but the Internet throws a wrench into any judgment made about Gen Ipod-- perhaps their latest performance in the real world is not a "failure", but the origins of a major shift in American culture. And I think most would agree that American's cultural fabric is being rewoven. So why are we expecting that our thinking, our ideals, the way we do business, any every other aspect of our society are not going to change along with it? It seems we are judging a new generation on an antiquated scale.

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