Currently screening on TV One here in New Zealand, this show is hosted by clinical psychologist Nigel Latta.
It is the funniest, most apt piece of television I have enjoyed watching in years.
Last night’s episode has sparked me into print because the first section about Generation Y just hit such a big nerve that I spent the entire section nodding, laughing and thinking – “oh my god, that is so completely true”.
The entire piece revolves around the idea that by removing the concept of “winning” and introducing the idea that everyone should get a prize no matter how much effort they put in (just turning up is enough), we encourage our children to have unrealistic expectations of their own worth and entitlement. i.e. I’m here, I’m fabulous, why aren’t you fawning over me?
I believe that every kid is special, but not every kid is special at everything. How can you be special if all the other kids are treated the same irrespective of how much time, effort and talent they put into any activity? And conversely, how can the other kids be special if you get a prize for turning up when they are clearly better at something and not recognised for it?
Where’s the possibility of genuine self-esteem generation there?
This complete lack of understanding of how the “real” world works amongst some of “the younger generation”, and the demands put on others for their own self-gratification has long been a bug-bear of mine. I have been known to repeatedly pontificate and be a general bore on the subject of this inability to recognise the need to “earn” the right to have something, or to do something.
We have had at least two Gen Y – types at our work over the years. They never fail to amaze and astound me with their density. They cannot see past their own needs, wants and desires. They don’t understand why the word “no” is used by others to some of their ‘requests’ and they don’t understand the concept of being paid by performance rather than length of time on the job. (i.e. they turn up and are “loyal” so what’s the problem?) And certainly their view of what is “team oriented” is a million miles away from my own.
By way of example, how does this attitude sit with you…
Young person, not sound with money despite advice from parents and employers regarding the need to be prudent, goes out and buys a $1000 cellphone because it is cool (or whatever). Less than a month later, the same young person is known to be in financial difficulties due to court orders for fines payments and what appears to be debt collectors attempting to contact them at their workplace. What does said young person do? Face up to the reality of what they’ve got themselves into? Taken steps to get their financial mess in order? Come to some agreement regarding repayments? Sold some surplus stuff (i.e. cellphone) to reduce debt and improve cashflow?
Of course – NOT !!
Their first port of call is their parents – please bail me out. Parents, facing up to reality, say “No”.
Their second port of call is their employer – please give me a raise.
The last of these would not necessarily be an issue for a well-adjusted, contributing member of staff. But this young person was more known for a history of being unreliable, having contributed nothing new or of note to their workplace and certainly not putting in more than the bare minimum effort in order not to get the sack. What do you suppose the answer to the request of more money was?
Of course – NOT !!
I know I’m sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, and I also know that these comments verge on a sweeping generalisation (as I do actually know some ‘younger generation’ that don’t behave like they have a god-given right to anything they want, when they want it and without earning it). But by crikey it is more prevalent than people may admit and it causes us “older” folk some degree of difficulty in a workplace. Those politically correct behavioural practices introduced into many of our schools may have been done so with good intention but they clearly have a long-term negative impact on our children and their ability to stand up in the world.
Silly, silly, silly. As though you would find any such nonsense occurring in other parts of the world. India, for example. Competitiveness is embedded and the only way you can get ahead. I wonder why they are getting so much of our call centre and IT work? Oh, that’s right… they earn it*.
Anyway stepping off my soap box, I can highly recommend this for viewing if you are in NZ. If not, you can always see if any of Nigel Latta’s books are available in your local library or book shop.
If all else fails you can always look here for them too – Nigel Latta on Amazon.
* Before you leave messages telling me the ONLY reason our call centres and IT work go to India is because of “slave labour wages” that those of us in the first world wouldn’t get out of bed for… DON’T.
Yes, they have a competitive advantage on their salaries. I know that. I also know and have spoken to many Indians (being the nature of our industry) and understand that they have a driving, competitive internal market for education. You don’t sit on your backside in that country and expect to get ribbons just for turning up. Not that I am in any way advocating that we turn our system into a “workhouse for kids”. I believe in a middle ground – one that shows kids how the real world works (they will be up against third world competitors with numerous competitive advantages trying their best to make a living), while allowing them the time and space to actually have a childhood. That doesn’t mean dumbing stuff down for them, or over-praising their skills, or giving them everything they want when they want it. It means loving them, setting fair boundaries based on their abilities, comforting them when they “lose” and encouraging them to improve and try again. When they win, they’ll be amply praised. But not just for the sake of it. Because they have achieved something, even if that something is as “small” a thing as learning to jump.
Just my 2c.