By Declan Coyle
He was what you would call a very stressed out young person. He had talent and ability but he just wasn’t achieving his true potential. He was as he said, “mostly ticking over.”
I suppose he was what you would call your typical teenager.. We give our children everything in life except perhaps the ability to handle adversity.
He was definitely of the opinion that the world owed him a living. He was blaming other people, events and situations for his own fitness and motivational problems.
I shared with him my version of ‘The 11 Rules of Life’ based on a book by Charles Sykes called ‘Dumbing Down Our Kids.’
1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. Expect difficulty! This is no surprise; it is not unfair or unusual. Life is complicated. Get good at it.
2: The real world doesn’t care much about your self-esteem. It will expect you to accomplish something before you actually feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock.
3: Sorry, you won’t make €30,000 a year right out of secondary school. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a label. The key is to understand that challenges are how we learn and grow. Life is about the lessons we learn. Expect interesting situations. Taking them in your stride builds your confidence. Never fear trouble. Just learn to triumph over it.
4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. When you mess things up, he or she’s not going to ask you how you feel about it. View difficulties as challenges or learning opportunities rather than as problems. How we talk about our difficulties makes a huge difference. Words matter. Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions.
5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wages either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around texting all weekend.
6: It’s not your parents’ fault. If you make a mess of things, you are responsible. This is the flip side of “It’s my life,” and “You’re not the boss of me,” and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. Learn from every experience. Learn from difficulties, make changes, and move on. Never repeat the same life-lesson. Attitudes of optimism and enthusiasm are essential.
7: Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try tidying your bedroom and delousing your closet.
8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t. Effort matters.
9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. They expect you to show up every day at work. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself.
10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus the commercials time. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs.
11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for one.
Only one person will help you achieve your potential. You. If not you, who?