Monday, February 2, 2009

Why I Believe in the Next Generation

This will be released soon on The Leading Ideas e-zine! Here is your preview:

I work with young adults. That is to say, that when I employ them to be on my staff my goal is to work with them, not have them work for me. I have learned over the years that people rise to the level of the expectations placed upon them, so I raise the bar as high as possible and challenge the young people I encounter to rise…and they do! I believe in the next generation for five reasons: ingenuity empowers them; injustice enrages them; challenges enthrall them; culture equips them; and hope inspires them. The future they face is not as bright as the one they should have inherited but I know that they will rise to the challenge!

Ingenuity empowers the young adults I encounter. A simple example is the I-Phone. It was supposed to be a closed system; applications would have to be approved. Young adults took this as a challenge and “hacked” their I-phones and created a myriad of specialize applications for it. They are not bound by pre-conceived ideas or limitations. One author contends that those of us who are older (that hurt since I’m “only 43”) think linearly, but Mosaics (my preferred name for this generation) think in webs. Every line interacts with, informs and influences every other line. This allows for a level of creativity and ingenuity previously unheard of. Young adults are ingenious; if you don’t believe me, just ask one.

Secondly, injustice enrages them. There is a seemingly inherent moral compass inside of this generation that is completely intolerant of social injustice. Whether it is it the crisis in Darfar, the AIDS pandemic in Africa, or local poverty, they attack injustice. Whereas Boomers found injustice a minor bother and were willing to send $10 to the cause of the day, Mosaics pack their bags and head to Bolivia to dig wells and to India to distribute mosquito nets.

Additionally, challenges enthrall them. Mosaics love to be told what they cannot do and what is “impossible.” Challenges give them the opportunity to utilize all of their resources to attack and discover new ways of beating the system. Mosaics think fast and act fast. They love a fast-paced, challenge-laden environment.

Part of their ability to adapt to any challenge so quickly is that culture has equipped them to be flexible, fast and focused. The speed of change in our culture is moving faster than at any time in history, and Mosaics swim in the waters of change almost effortlessly. Cutlure has taught them to be flexible and keep their options open, to think and act fast because the opportunity will pass you by and to be completely focused on the emergent problem at hand so that, once it is solved, you can move along to the next one.

Lastly, an perhaps most importantly, hope inspires them. Amdist the rapid pace of change, the challenges of our world and the injustice that surrounds them, Mosaics continue to manifest hope. They are not blind optimist, but deliberate realist who still believe they can change the world. They are unwilling to accept the status quo and are ready to make their mark upon the world.

I believe in the next generation because they are persons of ingenuity, compassion, and hope. It is now our job to help them mold that energy into a synergistic force for good and then get out of their way. If I were to offer faith-based leaders three words of advice they would be to expose Mosaics to big ideas; equip Mosaics to lead; and encourage Mosaics to follow their dreams.

Never underestimate the power of a Mosaic to be willing to study, research and grapple with big ideas. Expose them to a myriad of speakers, teachers and ideas, even some with vastly competing views, and let them weigh out the options. This is a generation built upon the idea that intellectual capital is the greatest force on earth, expose them to as much of it as possible.

Allowing Mosaics to lead is risky but rewarding. They will not follow the path of those who have gone before them but that does not mean they will go astray. Mosaics will try new things, come up with vastly different ideas and be willing to take risks. So what if they fail as long as they learn and are able to take their experiences and move forward. Let them lead.

Lastly, be a dream enhancer rather than a dream squashier. Help them grasp the scope of their dream and map out a way to accomplish it. Help them understand the cost of following the dream and the benefit if it is accomplished. One ridiculous dream may be what it takes to save the planet!

I believe in the next generation, in their abilities, their ideas and their values. The future rests in their hands, lets help them by investing in them with all that we have.

I remain:

Consumed by the Call,
Marty Cauley, Believer
Marty's Library
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