A Letter to the Next Generation: Life is the Ultimate Apprenticeship

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As a professional coach, my job is to ask my clients questions rather than give advice. Coaching is based on the belief that every person is creative, whole and resourceful. I’m a GenXer and I know that’s all true. So what I offer is some of the wisdom I’ve learned that may be helpful.

You get to choose much of what happens in your life. Being able to choose is both an extraordinary responsibility and a tremendous opportunity. Focus on the opportunity side of the equation. You are blessed to be living in a period of history where your ideas can take root with the click of a mouse, and movements are created in less time than it takes to read this paragraph. I know you will use those powers for immense good.

Feel free to let go of any angst or concern that you only have one specific path in life. There are many paths and you will create your own, which will be so much better than any pre-determined plan.

Choose your heroes well and please be among them. Humbly share your stories, particularly about courage, struggle and vulnerability. Those are the most important stories heroes can share.

Ignore labels that others place on you that make you feel small or limited while embracing those descriptors that empower you.

Fact-check. Information and data, frequently disguised as facts are often based on speculation or well-intentioned but misguided advice. Fact-checking will keep you open to new ideas while protecting you from urban myths and the rumour-mill.

Gut-check. You have a huge neuronal network linking your brain to your gut. If you have an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach, you might want to listen to it.

Life is the ultimate apprenticeship

Be open to outcomes as experiences for learning – there is little in life that can truly be considered a failure – it’s all learning.

There will be times in your life when your values will be tested and you will be required to draw a proverbial line in the sand. I wish you wisdom coupled with practicality when having to make those tougher decisions.

Be ready to embrace and guide the next generation. The first of GenerationZ to graduated from high school last year and soon they will be entering the workplace. You will be their bosses and mentors. Remember to be the kind of boss and mentor that you wanted when you started your first job.

No matter what situation you find yourself in there is always something for which to be grateful. Focus on strengths and possibilities, rather than weaknesses and threats. If you look for the bright spots, you’ll find them. Keep looking for goodness in you and around you and build on it.

Be intentional in your actions – which means know your “why” as much as your “what.” If you are considering that degree, certificate or public recognition, go and get it with my blessing. But don’t feel you “have to”. You already have your permission.

Chris Peterson, psychologist, teacher and one of the founding fathers of positive psychology often said, “Other people matter”. You matter. If the world ever seems too overwhelming, please reach out for help. We need you.

You will find your unique way in the world like every generation has before you. You will encounter gifts and obstacles you can’t yet imagine so keep an open mind while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground and while having fun.

Earlier in my career when I was preparing for a job interview, or getting ready to give an important presentation, my best friend would say, “It’s all in you” rather than “good luck”.

It is in you. You don’t need luck.

I know we are asking a lot of you. I would have preferred you inherit a world with fewer wicked problems, many requiring your urgent attention. I know you will take all these responsibilities in stride by using your prosperity to shine a light on injustice, to innovate and to champion others.

Newspaper cartoonist and columnist Frank Tyger said:

The future depends on many things, but mostly you

The world is in your hands now: your very good hands. It’s all in you.

With deep gratitude.


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