I recently interviewed Dan Sullivan, president and founder of Strategic Coach®, about what his life was like growing up. Today, Dan’s a successful entrepreneur and leading business coach. But in 1950, he was a first-grader who didn’t really enjoy school.
Frustrated, he asked his teacher one day why he was being forced to learn. She responded that everything he was being taught was for the purpose of using it later on in life. He would need these skills and knowledge when he ventured into the world to get a job. At that time, it was accurate—everything he learned during 12 years of school fit into the bigger world he eventually found himself in.
But things are different today.
So many jobs that are critical to our society today didn’t exist when I was in school (and that was only five years ago). There’s not a single first grade teacher today who could give a fully accurate prediction to their students about what life is going to be like even ten years from now.
So, how do you bring up children in a world where there’s so little predictability about the future, the economy, technological disruption, and the job market?
Dan shared some advice and predictions that I think will be useful to parents, youth, and fellow millennials.
Always start by creating value for others.
Dan believes one guarantee for the youth of the future is that there won’t be opportunities until you first create value for others.
When you’re growing up, things are handed to you a lot more easily. But as you get older and enter the workforce, whether you’re an employee or self-employed, you have to create value—otherwise, doors won’t open for you. There likely won’t be a promotion or professional growth unless you can prove to someone that you’re creating value—beyond just completing your daily tasks and what’s expected of you.
“Future youth can be guaranteed there won't be opportunities unless they create value first.”
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Be the kind of person that people recommend.
Dan lives his life according to what he calls the Referability Habits™. He believes these are the basis of all success for anyone, anywhere. By learning these skills at a young age, you’re setting yourself up for success:
- Show up on time.
- Do what you say.
- Finish what you start.
- Say please and thank you.
Establishing these simple habits and sticking to them separates the successful from the unsuccessful. These mindsets are what set you apart in the workforce and help you succeed in finding and keeping a job. Without an awareness of these habits, it’s easy for people to fall into the “blame game,” when it’s really just about committing yourself to being a dependable person.
Dan predicts that if people make an effort to develop these habits and mindsets, it has the potential to eliminate 99 percent of the problems they may encounter in their careers.
As a team member at Strategic Coach, I’m fortunate to be constantly surrounded by this type of thinking on a daily basis. It’s helped form my understanding of the world, how I can contribute, what’s required for my personal and professional growth, and how to handle the unpredictability of the future. Every day, I’m armed with tools, mindsets, and coaching that keep me motivated, inspired, and growing.
Finding your place in the world—a place that’s both motivating and inspiring—can be tough. Share Dan’s words of advice and predictions with the youth in your life who need a boost and a vantage point from which to look at their future. For those interested in learning more and getting more involved, Strategic Coach’s Unique EDGE® Program for 18- to 24-year-olds is hosted yearly in the summer months.
When it comes to getting to know yourself better and learning how to best take advantage of your strengths to fuel yourself forward, there’s no better option.