A new school of hard knocks is in need

One of the great criticisms of the emerging generation is that they are not as mentally resolute and struggle to accept the hard knocks that many in previous generations had to accept and learn from. It is this, it is argued, that has created such a large divide between generations as those that understand just how hard they had to work to find their place struggle to see the young not work with the same passion and intensity.

By Chris Sheppardson, Managing Director, EP

It is an interesting one as the 1980s was in many ways a harsher and more brutal environment and yet was at the same time far more fun. I remember young advertising executives being fired for not spending enough on expenses. Today they would be fired for spending too much. There are many in financial services that built up a base with just a phone and their wits. They had to build relationships. Accountants in the 60s and 70s would spend their evenings adding up pages on the phone book to develop their ability to adding up large numbers with ease.

The argument – fair or not – is that today too many expect “instant gratification” and this just is an unreal expectation. As many will testify, the best things do generally require hard work, sacrifice, failures and learning how to build real relationships. There is a need to build up the mental resilience of the emerging generations and this needs to come from a combination of employers explaining better what is required in the work environment plus also an increased focus on the development in the mental side of life. In the 80s and 90s, it was a natural expectation. Today it is less so and we can all think of examples when talent has not excelled as they have wanted all the rewards of a role without really making a difference, standing tall and accepting the good and the bad.

“We used to take pride in operating in a competitive environment. Today this is seen as almost an outrageous request.”

Is this the fault of the young? Of course not. The system and structures have been put into place by many different parties that have allowed an exciting, talented, clever generation to emerge but one that does need development in the mental side of what can be a stressful, tough work environment. We used to take pride in operating in a competitive environment. Today this is seen as almost an outrageous request. It isn’t as many boards’ directors today are operating through the same tough stresses that have always existed, what is needed is teams that can be equally tough and mentally resolute.

The talent exists – an almost extraordinary resource of intelligent talent. It just needs developing. Life is not easy and there is a need to teach this again in a balanced way. Given the stats of how many struggle with the mental side of work and life, there is a need.