Archives For Generation iY

Yesterday, I suggested that work is about more than money. It’s about meaning. And when we don’t equip and encourage our young people to “work” we do them a disservice. We clip their wings. They become disabled when it comes to living a healthy life. They’re unable to be productive adults.


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The largest unemployed demographic in the US continues to be young adults, 16-29. The reason is not merely a bad economy, although that hasn’t helped. For many, jobs are readily available. Sadly, the jobs that are available are “too low” for teens to take; they’d rather pass them off to immigrants. (In recent focus groups, adolescents told me that yard work or working in a fast food restaurant is “below” them).

Let me suggest some fundamental benefits that work offers us, as people. When we labor at something meaningful—offering goods or services to our community—we engage in an activity that benefits us far more deeply than financial. Consider this:

1. Good work helps us identify our gifts.

When we get a job, we can experiment with tasks that can confirm where our greatest gifts and talents lie. The closer we get to serving in our “sweet spot” the deeper our sense of satisfaction.

2. Good work helps us develop discipline.

When we work on a job, our motivation may only be the paycheck that’s coming on Friday, but along the way, we deepen our disciplines; we hone our ability to delay gratification and get beyond doing only what “feels good.”

3. Good work raises our self-esteem.

I believe working a job typically ends up cultivating our self-image. We gain a deeper sense of pride about ourselves; a greater sense of dignity; we want to live by a higher standard. One proverb says: He that hates discipline despises himself.

4. Good work provides big picture vision.

When we work, we tend to gain perspective. We can see passed ourselves; we are humbled by it. Activities we assumed were easy are now clearly not that easy. We appreciate money and what it buys because we know the hours it took to earn it.

5. Good works furnishes fulfillment.

Finally, when we work at something we believe in, the reward can be internal. More than a salary, we gain in inward sense of gratification. We’ve added value; we can step back and look with satisfaction what we’ve accomplished. This is a divine gift.

If you know a young person who “just isn’t into working”, may I suggest you talk over these five benefits with them?  Perhaps they’ve never seen an adult actually work at a job they love. Or, they’ve never seen a job they felt actually mattered. You and I know differently.  Let’s get our young people working again. Let’s model for them what it looks like to enjoy work while laboring at something that counts.

Let me hear from you. What are some other benefits of good work? Leave a comment below.

I have believed for years that a missing piece in helping students mature is work. Or, should I say, the lack of it. When I was a kid, I got my first job at 12, tossing newspapers on driveways for less than minimum wage. Yep, I did it before school so it was dark and it often rained as I rode with my bike full of papers each day. Later, at sixteen, I got my first “real” job working at a fast-food restaurant. Before I had a car, I rode my bike four miles to work, then four miles back after my shift. In college, I worked three jobs, while carrying a full-load of classes. At the time, I did it because I needed the money. I had no idea what it was doing for my character, my work ethic and for cultivating an appreciation for the everyday blessings and benefits I enjoyed. Like vegetables, it was good for me.


Today—the average teen in America is not employed. They don’t have to be. For some reason, mom and dad have decided it’s better for them to play a sport, or dance, or do ballet, or sing. I appreciate all those things—but they are all virtual experiences. Unless the kid becomes a professional at those activities, they are facsimiles of real life. And while a student can learn discipline from them, they are not an experience of trading value for value, like work is.

Why have we exchanged work for other after-school activities?

1. Mom and dad have the funds and believe that to be good parents, we owe it to our kids to give them spending money for almost everything. Six years ago, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the average teen has $87 a week to spend.

2. Society feels that working forces a child to grow up too quickly. We see kids being pushed into a regimen of more school hours, homework, testing and performances,  and we fear they have to grow up too fast. So, not working is one way to stay a kid.

3. When our kids play a sport or a piano—they stay under our general supervision. At work, they do not. We are safety-obsessed in America and we feel work may not be safe. And quite frankly, we like to be in control. We can be control freaks.

4. Work is generally perceived as boring—and “boring” is almost a cuss word. If you asked the average teen what they hate most, being bored would likely make their top five list. Other activities, while not as productive, keep our kids entertained.

May I toss a thought into the ring? Work shapes us. It is innately good for human beings to experience. This is why so many unemployed people or citizens on welfare find it difficult to become the best version of themselves. Work enables us to express ourselves in exchange for money; to identify and groom our talents and to cultivate healthy self-esteem because we are adding value to others. From a purely spiritual standpoint, it is a divine gift. Work can be an act of worship to our Creator.

To be honest, it’s no wonder our kids are finding it hard to grow up; it’s no wonder the average teen delays acquiring their driver’s license one full year; it’s no wonder they feel entitled to things they have not earned. They often don’t even do chores around the house. An adult does. And often, it’s an adult who understands the value of work.

Don’t you think perhaps we’ve done our kids a disservice? Leave a comment below.

Mashable shared an article on a month-long study which found more Americans readers, ages 16 and older, are embracing e-readers. The number of traditional readers dropped from 72% to 67% from last year, while digital bookworms jumped from 16% to 23%. While two thirds still read paper books, trends show ebook reading on the rise.


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“These data show that the process of book reading is shifting,” Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Lee Rainie recently wrote. “The rise of e-reading devices has major implications that are affecting the publishing industry and eventually could affect the way knowledge is packaged and the way ideas are spread.”

I recently met with Dr. John Barge, the Georgia School Superintendent and his curriculum specialist Dr. Mike Buck and discussed this issue. They feel that Georgia schools are likely ten years away from seeing e-books take over traditional text books, but they see it coming. It inevitably would spare schools costs and the books could be updated easily when they’re electronic. Makes sense.

Broader e-reader and tablet ownership fuels the increased popularity of digital novels. Compared to the results from a phone survey conducted in May 2010, the percentage of individuals who own either a tablet or e-book reader increased from 6% to 33% in November 2012, according to Pew’s latest trend report.

Libraries across the nation that recognize the trend are building e-book collections. This summer, two New York City public library systems partnered up with Penguin Group and electronic-book distributor 3M to distribute nearly 15,000 digital titles, according to a Wall Street Journal report. About 31% of national public libraries currently offer e-books, compared to 2011’s 24%. Digital book rentals at the library have increased from 3% to 5% in a year.

Have you replaced print books with digital editions? Tell me why or why not.

I remember my college art professor asked our class which one of us thought we could create the best abstract from the assignment he’d taught that week. Whoever did would get extra-credit. All of us had egos. Every one of us believed we were good artists—but none of us raised our hand for this project. We were too modest.


photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc

A friend just reminded me of a statistic about freshman students today.

The American Freshman Survey is given every year to first year students. Question 41 asks them to compare themselves against “the average person your age,” rating their strengths and weaknesses on a list of nineteen characteristics.

According to journalist Michael Overall, when the annual survey was launched in 1966, most college freshmen had a pretty high opinion of the average person. Or, they just had a realistic opinion of themselves. Between 60-70% marked themselves “average” or “below average” in most categories.

Since then, over 15 million students have taken the survey, designed to give colleges a demographic picture of their incoming class. Evidently, the average person “just ain’t what he used to be.” Three out of four freshmen now consider themselves “driven to succeed” more than most people. Two thirds think they have more leadership ability. Three of five actually describe themselves as more intellectual.

“It’s like everybody grew up at Lake Wobegon,” Overall writes. We want our kids to have healthy doses of self-esteem, but even water can kill you if you drink too much.

Twenty-five years ago, half of all students spent at least six hours a week studying for class. Today, barely one out of three put that much effort into it. Ironic for a group that considers themselves so “driven.”

Self-confidence is knowing you can succeed if you work hard enough.

Arrogance is thinking it will be easy.

What do you think we can do to teach students the difference between arrogance and self confidence? Click here to leave a comment.

Today, I am excited to announce the official launch of Habitudes for the Journey: The Art of Navigating Transitions. As students move from high school to college or college to career, it is essential that adults prepare them to transition well.


An increasing number of higher ed faculty report freshman students are unready for college:

  • More than half of 2012 high school grads who took the college entrance exam did not have the skills they will need to succeed at college, two recent reports say.
  • Just over 57% earned a combined score lower than what’s needed to make it in college
  • Most could not maintain a B- average or above, according to SAT scores. Based on ACT scores, students came in a bit lower, showing 60% don’t have what it takes.
  • Student scores in STEM classes fared the worst, however, students continue to confidently assert they are “good” or “very good” at math and science.

Did You Know…

  • Two thirds of students change their major more than once.
  • 40% wish they’d chosen a different major once they finish.
  • More than half take six years to graduate.
  • 50% are unemployed or underemployed after graduation.
  • 40% make a decision about their major without thought of a career.
  • Two thirds graduate with a debt. The average debt is $26,000.
  • Over 60% move back home with their parents.

 We must help them transition well.

To illustrate this point, we created a video trailer for Habitudes for the Journey. We hope you’ll enjoy and share it. We also hope it inspires you to put an end to “Chronic Freshman Disorder”.


habitudes-for-the-journeyPick up your copy of Habitudes for the Journey today. It’s designed for use with groups of students. Bulk discount pricing is available. For more information, click here.



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