By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground. Genesis 3:19
This title has a lot of significance to me personally. It conjures up the ability to learn about yourself while being in a wilderness experience that tests your resolve.
A recent news story described the failure of an athletic coach to get two of his players to take a position of leadership. They refused, even after their peers selected them.
They didn’t see leadership as a distinction or an honor. One might assume they didn’t want the responsibility. Apparently this is not unusual with the next generation in athletics. If it is true in athletics, it will be true in life.
This is an important trend. Employers look for leadership qualities when they hire. In a 2016 surveyat Northeastern, over 80% of employers say they number one trait they look for is leadership potential.
As noted in Humanics, leadership will be increasingly important in an age of AI and robots in the workplace. Right behind qualities of leadership, employers look for the ability to work as a team.
Tim Elmore may have put his finger on the cause for the recent decline of the next generation to embrace being a leader. He cites the work in 1954 of Dr. Julian Rotter who developed the Inward/Outward profile assessment.
By adolescence, people develop an internal preference to what is termed the “Locus of Control.” There are two options:
- An External Focus: The individual sees success being due to factors outside of themselves.
- An Internal Focus: The individual sees they are responsible for their success.
Since 2002, studies show a growing trend in the next generation to seeing the world through an External Focus. They may be overwhelmed by the amount of information they have at their fingertips. According to Elmore, they begin to “play defense, not offense.”
If they don’t take responsibility for their success, their failure is then attributed to the fact that they were the victim of someone or something. Personal initiative is deleted from the equation.
A person who has an external focus will always be looking for someone else to make it happen, whatever “it” is, including leadership. Those with an Internal Focus will succeed in any environment. They aren’t waiting on someone else to get the job done for them.
Which brings me to Outward Bound. It is an outdoor educational experience that emphasizes team work and leadership for youth and adults.
Its philosophy is to create experiential learning while being outdoors in a variety of settings – mountaineering, backpacking, sailing, whitewater rafting and even dog sledding.
.Outward Bound was based on a World War II survival skills course for members of the English Air Force. Started in the U.S in 1961, it now has 11 venues across North America and has expanded outside the US into South America and even India.
Outward Bound is not just for the well-to-do. They offer scholarships on the basis of need on a first come, first served basis. They believe everyone should be able to have the opportunity to experience adventure and challenge.
I did a rafting course on the Green River, Utah, with my oldest son in 1987. He was 17 and I was 43. I survived, but the 24 hours solo experience by myself in Rattlesnake Canyon was a challenge. I just knew I was going to find a rattlesnake in my sleeping bag.
I did the trip for my son who had struggled with some personal issues while away at boarding school. It led to his final year away at school being his best. We had a blast together.
The Outward Bound experience, and others like it, forces an individual to develop self-reliance and teamwork skills, the perfect antidote for the “External Focus” of todays’ millennials.
In Genesis, after the fall, God was clear in speaking to Adam that “by the sweat of YOUR brow” you shall eat. He didn’t say by the sweat of “someone else’s brow”. It was Adam’s responsibility to take the initiative.
Our challenge is to help the next generation embrace the value of being self-reliant and have an Internal Focus. God has gifted each of us uniquely with gifts and talents. He did so with a purpose for our life.
It’s our individual obligation to take God-given attributes and gifts into the world. It’s not up to someone else to do it for us.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: One of the best things a mentor can do is encourage his mentee to realize his gifts and talents. Assessments can be helpful to give insights into what makes a mentee special, so they can plot a path for their careers and lives consistent with their aptitudes.
RESOURCES: Growing Leadershas a curriculum aimed at cultivating leadership habits.
Outward Boundteaches leadership and teamwork skills while challenging students in outdoor activities.
Financial Aidfor Outward Bound.
WORSHIP: As we enter the Christmas season, listen to Labor of Love, a beautiful song.
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