“Do you know why it is always best to tell the truth?” I asked a young man I was mentoring. Our heated discussion was now dying down and I was attempting to bring my point home. He had been caught in a lie and now the offer which the solicitor had extended was rescinded.
He let out a frustrated breath, “Because lying’s a sin.” He looked at me for approval.
I smiled, “True, however, let’s put it in terms you’ll be able to grasp. The truth is what you will remember later.”
His “easy way out” was to lie and it backfired. Everyday many young people cut corners and miss out on real opportunities. Many of the young people I mentor work diligently at trying to avoid work. Why would they do this? It’s simple – because it’s easier. They do the least amount possible to get by. Instead of learning a process, they will only learn what they need to learn in order to get what they wish. This is a value I refer to as survival, but it is not a positive value. Most of my young men will struggle to find meaningful employment because they won’t go find a computer, such as the ones at the library, to log unto a company’s website and fill out an application. Online employment application is the trend that is firmly embedded in the employment protocol of this age. Except for the small business, most every other enterprise does their hiring online. We can argue all day long about the errors of this trend, but it won’t change a thing. If you want to compete in today’s job market you have better learn this process.
The thought process goes something like this, I can go to the library and apply online for that grocery store job, the one with benefits and a career path, or I can go to the place my cousin told me about and ask about the job they need to fill– a job which, incidentally, pays minimum wage and has no career path. Which is the easier to do? The trip to the library is too much work.
Then there is the resume. Once you start building one it’s a simple matter of updating it. However, that requires finding a computer, sitting in front of it and writing in proper English. So again, no matter how much convincing we attempt as to the merits of having a resume the task will largely go undone. It’s too much work. Filling out an application is much easier.
Email is another problem. Much of the communication done by today’s youth is on social media. It’s entertaining and it has pictures. Email doesn’t and who wants to check it? Most of my young people will tell me that they have email but they don’t check it. Odd that my cell phone lets me know when I receive an email, but apparently they don’t set theirs up that way. The business world communicates a lot through email. I do it every day.
The middle class will always overcome because of their shared values. They understand the need to work, to be diligent, to learn, and a host of other values. Everything I have said here is obvious to someone from the middle class.
So what’s the good news in all of this? Good counsel involves more than sharing wisdom once. It should be accompanied by a genuine interest in the person. Once that occurs the ability to speak and be heard greatly increases. This teenager with poor values now has a chance to grow exponentially. It is based on respect. Almost without exception, the teenagers I have worked with didn’t want any advice until they knew two things: that I respected them and that they could trust me.