Somewhere along the road, the young lost trust

John McEnroe famously noted that the difference between the world’s top 20 players was less than 1% skill but 10% in the mind. McEnroe understood that to win, to be a champion, was as much about being mentally strong as any other factor. He also noted:

“The important thing is to learn a lesson every time you lose. Life is a learning process and you have to try to learn what’s best for you. Let me tell you, life is not fun when you’re banging your head against a brick wall all the time.”

There are too many in the work environment who do feel that they are not free to express themselves, to be able to find their road forward. On the other hand, there are many that argue that there is an increased lack of accountability and less strong characters today that back their convictions and beliefs.

This is partially true – there are far less leaders that possess open and strong convictions on which they would happily take a platform. They are more inclined to talk from the corporate line and not rock any boat. Business performance and profit has become the primary goal. Understandable bar all the research stats that are being published tell us that there are few emerging leaders breaking through, that talent is opting out and that there is a need to find new answers in the development of talent.

Research argues that the average investment into training with Hospitality today stands at 1% of turnover. In Germany it stands at 4%. The figure should stand at between 2-3%. Others talk of some businesses L&D programmes are more advanced, more supportive, more sophisticated than ever before. Of course, there will be some bravado in these comments but there is probably much truth in them. However the reality is that it is clear that the young are struggling to break through.

Partly this is because there is undoubtedly less truth in backing youthfulness. It is an interesting debate but the young are treated today with more soft gloves, told they are less accountable, that they are more immature and that they are not as worldly as previous times. Again maybe true for good and fair reason and that accountability lies with the baby boomers that have overseen their development. Ask many of today’s experienced leaders when they first took on multi-site management roles and it will be at a far younger age than today’s generation is empowered with. So where lies the issue? The young today are getting better exam results and education. They possess great values and an enlightened view of the world.

The argument can only be that they need to be developed mentally – in their mental strength, their resilience to pressure, to be accountable, to stand and be responsible. We have trained them in every skill bar mental strength and this is where the challenge lies.

Have you noticed how the young can have a child at 17, marry at 16 and yet cannot rent a car until they are 25? This is not a lone example. The young are not trusted and are often patronised. This needs to change.

There is a bank of exceptionally gifted talent beginning their journey but if they are patronised, not given responsibility and not trusted, we will automatically lose important talent. If the challenge is to develop the mind then that is the challenge that we need to accept and take on.

Arguably the world does place increased mental pressures on all. Too many are struggling and opting out – so we need to embrace how we can support and develop talent in new ways – how we once again instil trust in the young and support their development.

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