Thinking on from our discussion last week on The Fight Our Youth Face, I wanted to share the three things that I believe we need to give to the young people around us. Working with interns everyday, these have been the basis of what I’ve been doing for 7 years.

1. Exposure

It’s vital that people know there is a world far larger than the one that they live in. When I am working with teenagers who live in poorer neighbourhoods, it’s always interesting to see the mindset that ‘there isn’t life beyond their street.’ Unless we expose people to more – they’ll never know what options they really have.

The way I like to expose people is to show them people who have more and people who have less. I’ll take them to areas of depravity, I’ll take to see people who have lot less than they do who have then become successful, I’ll show them people who have little but are happy, and I’ll show them people who have little and are sad. This can be done, of course, abroad (which does wonders for getting them out of their usual environment) – but I find it powerful to also show them people living in their own city who fit this description.

Then I’ll take them to places and people who have more. I’ll take them to luxury places, business meetings, to meet very successful people in a range of industries, etc.

And then finally, I’ll always strive to show them something new everyday.

All of this serves to shift their thinking, and also should help with humbling them a bit and realising how privileged they are, and also how hard they need to work if they want to be successful. (I say this, because humility and hard work seem to be two traits that are becoming rarer and rarer.)

2. Insight

If I had to list the important traits that I want someone to have, top of my list would probably be self-insight. To know yourself – to really know yourself – with depth and clarity, understanding your weaknesses and strengths, understanding how you work, what makes you tick – and not just in general, but with great precision and very specifically is an asset that will take you far.

Giving insight is hard work, especially because it requires cutting into someone in order to reveal themselves to themselves. By cutting I don’t mean I shout at them or demean them – of course not – it means knowing how to use a surgeons knife to make an incision that makes them see more clearly.

Sometimes this is not met with joy. Sometimes people are up for it, and then sometimes the same people have too much too deal with, and so you need to know when to pick your moments.

3. Giving

We have to show our young people how to give. More specifically, how to give:

  • Their time (their attention and effort into something or someone)
  • Their talent (their resources and skills)
  • Their treasure (their finances and investments)
  • Their tongue (their words, language and encouragement)

I strive to help learn how to give and then when to give and when not to give. You all know that I learned from Chris Brogan about focussing in on the person in front of you – there are also times of course when you should not give, and the danger is that if you teach people to be giving, you need to help them with the maturity to develop a very strong no. This creates focus.

Your Leading Thoughts

Those are my three top things that I think we need to give. I’d like to know what yours are – but more specifically;

  • What is the top thing that you think we need to give?
  • In your experience, what we do think we need to give, that young people actually already have?

Archived Comments

  • Jonny Rose

    Overarching all three of these concerns is one word:


    If you are in a position to provide a forum, arena or training ground in which the next generation of leaders and authorities can be given insight and exposure, as well as a place to explore they creativity – then providing opportunities in your own organizations will go a long way in assuaging concerns about the next generation.

    It is increasingly apparent (if you speak to teens) that British education isn’t facilitating any of the above (or rather, not as well as it could or should be), so it is up to private enterprise and social welfare schemes to take up the challenge.

    Your post reaffirms the importance of mentoring schemes (outside of business) and internships (within). Both provide OPPORTUNITY for young people be exposed to different environments and the provision of consistent and enduring 1:1 pastoral guidance in a mentoring relationship allows for cultivation of self-insight.

    If business leaders and knowledge authorities got involved in more mentoring schemes with young people, I think much of your post’s concerns would fall in to place.

  • / Scott Gould

    J – good stuff.

    I agree, we need to create more opportunities. The reality is that they are out there – but few find them – which reminds me of that Churchill quote that a wise man makes more opportunities than he gets.

    We need to make it easier to get involved in things – especially when so many kids are shy and afraid to ask.