Cathy Snelgrove (CET, CIM, MBA, PhD) is a Senior Partner in DiscoverYou, a Canadian company, focused on developing leaders through proprietary training and development programs. Cathy is frequently sought after as a guest blogger and speaker in the topics of leadership and business and writes her own weekly blog for DiscoverYou. She is the co-author of two books; It Is What It Is, Or Is It…All About Business and You Couldn’t Have Told Me This Before I Started My Business?, available on Amazon. Contact: Cathy@DiscoverYou.me
I often hear people say, “Our children are our future.” On one level this goes without saying. They will grow up and at some point and have kids of their own. In this regard, it is a cycle; each generation spawns the next so at a basic level, they are the future. As I thought about it, this seemed a little too simplistic. Being the curious person I am, I wanted to know what people really meant by this statement and whether most people had ever really given it any thought.
One of the first times I asked the question was with a group of business leaders. Of course, everyone can relate to the moments of dead silence in a room when someone asks the tough question and everyone looks around while avoiding eye contact, desperately hoping that someone else has the answer and that no one is looking at them.
After a moment, the first brave sole said, “At some point, they will grow up and get jobs, so they can take care of us when we are old.” Of course there were a few laughs, although of the nervous sort where you realize it really wasn’t a question that most had really ever considered.
Another time I decided to get a different perspective on the same question, so I asked my fourth year University students. Of course the answers were slightly different however at the same time; they also had never really given too much thought to what it meant to be responsible for the future.
I still think it is one of the most interesting statements that people make, however after asking over and over what it really means, here is what I have been able to summarize:
The social, economic and environmental challenges our world will face in the future, will become the burden of our children to solve;
Our children and their beliefs today about the world and about themselves and their abilities, will not only impact the now but will shape the thinking of future generations;
The future is yet in the minds of our children. The innovation and creativity they as yet are unconscious of will be the inventions, the workplaces, the technology and the advancements we do not yet know.
When you look at these statements, our children are in fact our future but more importantly each of us impact the probability of their success in what we do today. We are like farmers growing a crop. While you might think you are in charge of growing your crop, in fact what you are responsible for is in creating the conditions for the seeds to grow. A farmer has virtually nothing to do with the actual process of growing. Nature takes care of that. The seed is already programmed to grow, assuming the right conditions are in place for it to do so. If the farmer tills the ground, plants the seed where the sun can get at it, waters it and make sure the plants are protected from other predators, then the seed will have the opportunity to root and flourish. Without the farmer, the seed would simply remain a seed.
Our children will grow up and they will be the future, however how strong and resilient they are comes down to the conditions each of us provides them today. Our children are innovative, creative and filled with endless possibility. They are simply looking for each of us to believe in them, so that they can believe this in themselves. So the next time you look at a child, see them for what they can accomplish, see them as great leaders, see them as amazing contributors and most importantly see them for who are….our future!!!