I have been coaching and mentoring "next generation*" clients for quite a long time now. Over the years I had seen it all - from young people eager to do well who just need steering; to underachievers , to the idle, to drug-takers, to individuals with more serious psychological issues. So in this article, I just wanted to summarise some of the things that I am currently seeing and some of my recommendations to resolve these issues.
What do I see when they first come to me?
With the majority of cases, the Next Generation feel there is 'no consequence' in their life. In other words, there is no reason for them to get out of bed in the morning and 'put food on the table' by going out to earn a salary or make money.
Too much money
More often than not they are receiving 'too much money' as pocket money or as an allowance. In some cultures around the world, it is important for the family's standing in the community that all members of the family are seen to be wealthy, however young. For instance, you may frequently see teenagers driving around town in extremely expensive cars. While on the one hand this presents an image and perception of wealth, the reality is false and not a good way to set an example of working to earn success.
As a result of having everything given to them, many of these young people are extremely bored. Their lives and days lack purpose. There are only so many flat whites that you can drink with your friends in smart cafes in one day.
Everything they want, they can have!
Lack of satisfaction
Very quickly I see, despite considerable wealth in the family, a 'lack of satisfaction' or a total 'lack of personal achievement' creeps in. In most cases I see, there is a low level of self-esteem when I assess them. See the chart below.
This lack of satisfaction sees them flitting from one job/hobby/pursuit to another, never really sticking to anything for very long. Quite often they are trying to appear busy; however, this fools nobody but themselves.
They never really seem to show any passion or enthusiasm for anything. Instead, taking on a new activity is a ploy to keep their parents off their back and to pretend to show the world - more especially their parents - that they are doing something at least. When in fact the real truth is that they are lost on this 'island of wealth' with no clear direction or purpose in their life. Why? Because they have been given everything far too young.
They are quite often unfulfilled. Surprising really, considering the stunning houses they live in, the amount of expensive restaurants and clubs they frequent and amazing holidays they go on. For many though, they are still unfulfilled, but they are so stuck that they cannot see a way forward. They have no strategy to break out from this slightly vacuous existence.
Who is the saboteur?
This lack of fulfilment is quite often caused by a controlling parent, especially the parent that manages the money or has created the wealth. I always say, "there is a saboteur in every family". In the majority of cases, it is the controlling parent. However, it can be a sibling, or it can be the person themselves.
Look and see who the saboteur is in your family?
A false world
So, with a lack of direction, lots of money, low self-esteem and no consequence in their lives, they will take many holidays to fill the time and make out that they have a great life. The truth is quite the opposite. They are bored and bobbing like a cork on the ocean with no purpose or clear direction to travel in.
Overachieving to underachieving in one generation
So, the result is an over-achieving parent that can often lead to an under-achieving child/teenager/adult next generation. So many of the next generation look at their successful parent or parents and wonder how they are ever going to be as successful as them. They are gripped by fear. It will take courage and more often coaching and mentoring to get them to break cover from under the ‘shadow of their successful parental tree’ and strike out on their own.
Where did it all go wrong?
Was it that first test at school aged 4 or 5? The score was quite poor, but their teacher and parents did not take any real notice. Was it that over the next few years that child started to become the class clown to mask their failings? Was it that this escalated until they were rusticated or sent home from school when they were 11/12? Was it that they then started to explore and use drugs, so that by 16 they were expelled from school and then suddenly everybody started to realise there was a problem? Alternatively, was it that they were just given too much money by their controlling helicopter-parents too young and never allowed to work it out for themselves?
Only you will know and for me to find out!
So what is the solution?
I would say "Send them to see me!"
I work with a range of different next-generation of whom all have their issues, worries, concerns and ambitions, but have no workable or clear strategy to resolve them and move forward. I also have an amazing team of associates who are specialists in their own fields, whom I work very closely with on some of the clients that come and see me.
- Identify a client’s specific requirements;
- Create a plan with near-, mid- and long-term objectives;
- Put in place a team of specialists to enable clients to execute these goals.
Find a mentor or coach
Parents should parent and not try and be a mentor. However irritating it may be, children do not want career advice from their parents even if the mentor says the same thing as the parents. They will not listen to their parents. They will listen to their mentor.
Nobody climbs Everest without a team of Sherpas to help them.
In life, we all have our own team of Sherpas (our close friends and confidants) who help us on a daily basis - giving advice and support - as we climb our own 'Mountain of Achievement'. However, nobody ever sees who our Sherpas are. So quite often the young think that parents are 'achieving' all on our own. That is just not true. So parents should help build a team of Sherpas around their children, but it is not the parent who will the Sherpa. The parent should continue as the taxi driver, cook, cash-point machine, disciplinarian and most importantly the parent.
Follow your Passion
The next generation needs to find something that they are passionate about. Something that gets them out of bed in the morning, gets them excited and motivated. At this stage, they should not worry about the financials. They can work that out later. If they are doing something they are passionate about, then they will stick at it for longer with more determination.
Success is an equation made up of adding new skills + experiences + achievement + occasional good luck.
The next generation needs to go and learn new skills that have a relevance to their passion. Learning does not stop after school or university. They need to continue to evolve and that comes from learning new skills throughout their life. So they should start by finding a course, enrolling on it and then completing it. The latter point is so important. Its called Resilience.
"If the next generation is to face the future with zest and self-confidence, we must educate them to be original as well as competent."
After picking up some new skills, they then need to go and get some experiences. If possible, it should still be in the arena of their passion. So many of the young I help have had experiences, but the majority of them are experiences of flying on Daddy's private jet or boat or staying at some exotic ski chalet. Those are not real experiences. Go and experience the real world.
Build some consequence into their lives. They have to get out of bed in the morning and either put food on the table or make the world a better place. The easiest way is to limit the amount of money they are receive, either by eliminating an allowance completely or reducing it to a level where they have to get out of bed and either go and earn it or make it. They must have consequences in their lives: no work, no money.
You change; they will change
Children will not change their pattern of behaviour, simply upon request. Changes in behaviour take days, weeks and more often months. However, if a parent changes their behaviour, then the children will change their behaviour as a result. Parents should looks at themselves in the mirror and address the problem from within themselves first.
Push the next generation to the edge of their comfort zone. I do not mean put them in a war zone or in danger. They need to be put in positions where they are starting to feel uncomfortable, slightly nervous, where they might think there is a high level of risk, but in reality, there is a low level of risk. Alternatively, encourage to do something where they think they are at the edge of their competency level. It is at this point that we start to see change happen. I run an expedition across the Arctic on dogsleds. See the Arctic experience. I have been running this experience for ten years with clients. I have taken a lot of young on that trip, and it is always interesting seeing the change that takes place over the course of just 5 or 6 days.
Finally, the next generation needs to take responsibility for their own lives and their own actions. It is with that responsibility that maturity will happen. Give them responsibility. You will be surprised at their response.
Parents are not idiots
Most of the young think, at some point, that their parents are idiots. Parents are not idiots. They are trying to do the best for their children. Remember a parent has never been a parent before they are a parent for the first time. It is hard work, and the majority of parents want the best from their children and try and do the best for their children. However, do not sabotage their chances.
We can help
If, having read this article and you think that your child or a friend or a colleague might need help, please contact us, and we would be delighted to help.
We have many years of experience. We combine extensive knowledge in a range of fields helping the Next Generation. Our work is designed to help young people with a variety of difficulties, such as low self-esteem, lack of self-reliance, learning problems like dyslexia and OCD, academic guidance and mentoring or simply an absence of direction going forward.
AH Loder Advisers provides education and career mentoring as well as personal coaching based on the unique needs of each individual. Whatever a client’s age (we have worked with as young as a 5-year-old) or stage in life, we support the Next Generation every step of the way towards success. This support includes helping clients research, choose and apply for the perfect degree course, supporting their academic progress, helping them address personal challenges in the face of adversity, and guiding them towards the right career.
Contact Sandy Loder on +44207 042 9292 or via email at email@example.com
*next generation is often a term used to describe the children. It is a commonly used word for those families with family businesses and family offices.