Friday, May 15, 2009

Talking to New Grads? Think S.O.S - Sustainability of Self!

The S.O.S here is not the distress signal of dots and dashes meant to transmit "Save our Souls" that weary sailors and pilots use when they are in trouble. Then again, if you think hard enough, it could actually be a distress signal.

This new S.O.S I am talking about means "Sustainability of Self".

A little back story.

A few months ago I was having a conversation with my teens and a friend of theirs about their futures and their goals. I realized in that conversation that teens really hate the word "career". They don't just have a mild distaste for it, they really hate it. Especially my teens who are sixteen and seventeen.

I started to wonder if it was because, I, their mom, have been in the career management field for ten years and so the word "career" has been around for most of their lives? I know I have seen them roll their eyes when they heard Dad and I get into "alphabet soup" conversation about "typing" based on career assessments. Maybe that was it?

Or, could it be that their "Family Advocacy" class where they talk about careers and jobs and life, only address those well known occupational staples of Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants?

Considering my teens and some friends are in a "Visual Arts" cluster at school, I can see where they might zone out as uniformed teachers do their best to deliver "career education".

In that conversation, my daughter finally said, "Why do you have to call it a career? It's sounds like punishment or a disease!"

My instinct, of course, educator that I am, was to add more clarity, talk about a diversity of careers, but all my arguments came right back to using the word - career. I walked away stumped, but kept thinking about it.
What I see in my teens is the same thing I have seen in recent years working with hundreds of new grads. They are not wanting to talk about careers.

Then it came to me. What about "Sustainability of Self"? I passed it by my husband. What would you think if we talked about the future that way? Would this be better or am I just giving in to teen rebellion?

Here's what I discovered once I tested it on my teens, their friends and some new college grads - "Sustainability" is a good word to use with young people when talking about the future! They know what it means. They see it everywhere. In fact, they talk about it in the context of the environment and the globe, so why not use it to convey the concept of a profession? We know that this generation can expect multiple careers in a lifetime, so why not a new principle or a new metaphor?

My daughter, who is the C.R.O (Chief Recycling Officer) in our house, thinks it is a good approach. She would much rather have a conversation about future "Sustainability of Self" than talk about her future career or job.

I introduced the concept on Twitter and my Tweet buddy, Zach Smith, who writes The Capacity Evolution Blog, thougth the principle was good and we could extend it to: "Sustainability of Family" and "Sustainability of Community".

I like those!

What do you think? Where else could we go with that? Can you use the concept talking to new grads this year who are struggling with this job market!


almostgotit said...

I like "sustainability of Self" very much. It means so much more than financial security too, doesn't it? But all of it is connected, all is necessary, and none of it (indeed!) is a "punishment." "Self love" instead, maybe!!

Marcia Robinson said...

You got it! It is not all about financial security. It is also about choosing healthy life styles, healthy ethics and healthy people. I just had a chance to talk to more young professionals this last week about the concept and I think they really get it. So many are struggling with where to go and what to do professionally, that Sustainability of Self, gives good parameters within which to make decisions.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tom King said...

Sustainability of Self is a great concept. I work with business leaders and entrepreneurs on the issue of sustainable success. When things get out of balance in life or business, people get into trouble. Sustainable success depends on sustainability of self, or what I call doing well by being well.
It's good to pay attention to what our kids can teach us!

The RayeMartin Group said...

Your comment adds a lot to the discussion Tom. Doing well by being well is a great guiding concept.