Losing the Edge

We finally found a replacement for Fillet today.  Conducted the 2nd interview with the new chap this morning and got approval to offer him the position by the afternoon – he accepted it.  This new chap doesn’t seem as outstanding as the candidate we offered the last time but I think he’s a good choice nonetheless because he seems to have the right attitude (willing to learn, hardworking, sincere), has the right qualifications and is keen on the job scope. 

We interviewed quite a number of fresh university grads in our search for a suitable replacement and one thing that Bigmac and I found alarming was how sheltered the younger generation appears to be.  I don’t know what you call them – Generation Y?  Z?  Basically youths – young adults from the age of 16 to 24.  As Bigmac observed, these kids are damn pampered – they tote the latest iPhone/IT gadget, shop at designer boutiques and believe they all deserve starting salaries way above what they are qualified to earn.  Even though many of them have never worked in their lives – not even holiday jobs – they think they are superbly fantastic and are God’s gift to the work force.  Sorry kids, that’s not how life is.

I really wonder when did this change in mentality happen.  I had the opportunity to do a 2nd degree in law in the UK, however, I passed up the opportunity because I did not want to burden my parents with footing my living expenses overseas.  My husband paid for his MBA by working and studying at the same time.  Kids nowadays, however, take it as their birthright to study in countries far away from home, and instead of taking on part time jobs to earn their pocket money, they take it for granted that their parents will provide for them.  I wonder how many of these undergrads even take on student loans to pay for their tuition fees – something that was very common when I was in school.

When sent to companies to do their internships, these kids do not seem to have the initiative to ask for work.  Instead, I see the bunch of management trainees in my company hanging out in the pantry most of the day – during breakfast, after breakfast, tea break and before the work day ends.  Bigmac thinks it’s their supervisors’ fault for not giving them more work.  But even if they didn’t have enough work to keep them occupied, shouldn’t they do something more meaningful like read up on business news, insurance texts and the like?  They don’t seem one bit ashamed of the fact that their actions make them look like skivers and chao slackers.  And these management trainees are earning full time salaries, mind you!

I had a discussion along the same lines with a friend on Sunday.  He said that because I didn’t have children, I do not understand how parents think, i.e., if it doesn’t hurt you to provide something better, something more for your kid, then why would you hold it back?  I would like to turn the question around and ask parents – it may not hurt you, but did it ever occur to you that your pampering of your kids might hurt them? 

I’ve seen kids, no, young adults in their late teens/early twenties, whose parents still shop for them (e.g. take clothes into the dressing room for them to try, tell them what to choose/buy), and even young adults who continue sleeping with their parents.  Could this actually be good for the kid?  Would they ever be able to take stress and the harsh reality life throws at all of us?

A New Zealander colleague of mine commented this of youngsters in his country – he said that the education system has brainwashed youngsters into thinking that they can all be CEOs when they start work.  These youngsters are then crushed when they realise that life is not all easy peasy.  His point is, everyone has their station in life.  Sometimes, due to pure tough luck, you can work your heart out but still not achieve what you set out to do.  What happens then?  Nothing, really.  You just have to live with it and learn to make the best of what you can.

One of my Twitter friends posted a photo of her dad over the weekend.  He’s 94 and is currently in hospital due to some blood/insulin problem – his antibodies are eating up the insulin that he injects to control his diabetes.  Docs are not entirely sure what and how to treat him, and are still waiting for the results of a blood test that has been sent to the US for analysis.  Her dad looked spritely in the photo, and I told her so.  Her reply was that the older generation went through a lot to be where they are today and because of that, they are very much tougher than us.  Her sentiments were immediately echoed by another 2 friends in Macau and HK.

That was a good wake up call for me.  I may find youngsters these days soft, wimpy, sheltered, etc.  Perhaps the older generation views the same of me and that was when I decided that no matter how much more shit Xiaowang throws at me, I’m going to take it, deal with it, and resolve it.

To all parents who are reading this, I really hope you’ll consider not just the pros of your pampering, but also the cons.  A client told me recently that it is extremely important to send kids to the “right” primary school (he’s going to start volunteering at the school of his choice even though it’s another 3 years before his boy attends primary school).  Just like what I’ve said before about parents who buy washable crayons for their kids (so that they can wash away any marks on the wall), the first thought that crossed my mind was – shouldn’t we teach our kids the right values so that regardless of who they hang out with in school, they will stand firm in the values we ingrain in them?  Isn’t this much more important than sending them to a “famous” school so that they will mix with the “right crowd”?

Instead of worrying that our rice bowls and/or our children’s future will be robbed by foreigners, let’s focus on how we can toughen and improve ourselves.  Life is never easy.  Let’s not lose the edge.

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August 2010