Nobody grows up knowing how to make it on their own. If they did it would require them to make all the mistakes of the previous generations just in order to catch up with the rest of the world. We desperately need to learn not just from experience but from “OPE”, Other People’s Experiences. To shorten a learning curve just pays attention to what has already been learned. Read books, interview others, go to meetings, explore online resources and learn from others and take time to reflect.
That being said, we must also learn to find our own solutions. If we always require others to show us the way then soon there will be no guides left. Everybody will be a follower.
Leadership ability begins by learning to lead yourself. This is especially true when you are confused, overwhelmed, frustrated or depressed. If you can’t lead You then you surely shouldn’t be leading others.
So, where does self-reliance, courage to face fears, and the initiative to find new solutions to problems come from? How do people get the ability to stand up to challenges and press forward when they don’t see the solution to their dilemma?
I believe that this can only come from facing your challenges alone. Standing up to the bully, striking out on your own, opening a new business without much money in the bank, moving to a new town and making friends and building contacts, making sales calls on strangers, going to meetings where you don’t know anyone and finding a way to fit in. This builds courage and character. And this is sorely missing from today’s social environment. Below is an email message whose source I do not know but I’m sure you’ve seen it before.
It describes a world in which people lived without the universal protections that we endure today. Where people simply made their own way. The thing that makes it so remarkable is the product it produced. It produced people who were self-reliant. They didn’t need a team of lawyers to watch over them, a government agency to provide for their needs, or a social network that saved them from their own mistakes. They became “The Greatest Generation” and the offspring of those same folks.
I’m in the second wave of that. I was born in the opening wave of the baby boom, in 1946 and grew up in a world where I was expected to learn to deal with whatever life dealt to me. Today I’m vastly more self-reliant than many people I meet and hear about. So are those who trod the same path that I did.
Let’s return to the days where we didn’t rescue people from life but rather encouraged them to face whatever it brought them. The more self-reliant contributors we add to our society, the less government and regulations we will need. Hate bureaucratic red tape and endless forms required just to do business? So do I. So let’s start helping ourselves and our kids learn to rely on ourselves.
Here’s the email message:
Those Born Before 1979
TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s and 70′s!!
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints..
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.
As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts, or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread, and real butter and drank Cool-aid made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because,
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And we were OK.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes. No video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s, no surround-sound or CD’s, no cell phones, no personal computer! No Internet or chat rooms…….
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. And games had scores! Everyone knew who was winning and losing. And by losing we learned to cope with disappointment and find ways to improve. Nobody got a trophy unless their team won, and by the way, there was ONE trophy (earned by the Team) not one for each player.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!
If YOU are one of them…CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our livesfor our own good .
While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?!
By: Jim Cathcart