Several years ago, I wrote an Insight article that was based on a list that came from a commencement address delivered by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. The events since the election of Trump have reminded me of the wisdom of his list and how sad it is that our society needs such a list. Riots by young people, most of whom did not vote, and decisions by college professors who excused students from classes due to the stress of the election reminded me of Mr. Gates’ list.
Gates’ list includes 11 things students did not – and would not – learn in school. In his address, Gates talked about how feel-good, politically-correct teachings have created a generation of young people with no concept of reality. He went on to say how this concept has set them up for failure in the real world. Sadly, the actions of a segment of young people – and also by foolish college professors – reminds us that this entitlement mentality – coupled with a lack of reality – is even more fortified in our culture than it was before.
One aspect of the election results that has not been reported by the primarily liberal media is that the election of Trump was the triumph of the workers of the US over the entitlement culture that elected Barrack Obama.
Parents who have taught their children that the world caters to their needs and that they are the center of their own universe have done their children a disservice. They have caused their children to remain children even into their adult years. College professors who continue the nonsense of shielding students from reality contribute to the problem and further lessen the chance that these children will ever live successful lives.
And of course, the press loves this. It reports the irresponsible actions of these un-achieving young people because it supports their own foolish worldview.
Our culture increasingly focuses on what is popular among the youth. Movies are targeted at teenagers, and often contain characters and values that good parents would not allow in their home. The impact of youth culture and its many dysfunctional values is more influential on our culture than ever before. Why would any intelligent society base so many of its trends on the foolish “likes” of their youth?
Many misguided parents further the problem as they create an environment for their children where every need is covered and where there are no consequences. They compound this issue by allowing their children to participate in too many activities where the children are insulated from any character building feedback that might cause the child a bit of pain, pain that would cause them to grow. Parents make life through high school years a party and make sure that their entitled children are too “busy” to work.
These children get hit in the face by real life, either in college or later in life when the good times end, and they must accept responsibility and deal with reality. They learn that the real world is competitive and not graded on a curve.
In the real world, no one gives you a day off because the election did not turn out your way.
I am saddened when parents my age complain to me that their twenty-something children, often after multiple thousands of dollars of education and student loans, cannot get and hold a good job because they have not had to work for anything until they graduated college. These parents have, with good intentions, raised their children to be academically well-educated but often lacking in the basic common sense principals of how to work hard and take responsibility.
I believe one of the most important roles of parents should be to use the first eighteen years of our children’s lives to prepare them for the next 60-70 years of life. This does not mean that children cannot have fun. But it does mean that they need to understand that everything is not free and fun. It means they should have a part-time job in high school and possibly college. And it means that they should learn, even at home, everything is not given to them. It means that being part of a family is doing chores and helping out at home and in the community.
It is sad that our culture is so permeated with unreality and entitlement that we need a list like the one Bill Gates shared. However, it is fortunate that a person as successful as Mr. Gates is willing to share his list. And of course, be criticized for it.
Here is Bill Gates’ list. It is a good place to start – with your children, your staff, or even yourself:
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes; learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to work.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
Final point – You are never too old to grow up. Growing up simply means learning to take responsibility and work hard. Think how different the world would be if all parents and college professors taught this!