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Let's lead by good example

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


Let’s Lead by Good Example

Working with children and teachers as I do, I’m optimistic about the future. Although there are those who struggle and it can be easy - as it always has been - to find fault, most of the young people of today are vibrant, engaged and positive.

Australia recently set a world record for the longest continuous economic boom in history - 29 years and counting. I believe it’s a fair bet that the next 29 years will be more challenging, as that’s how business cycles work. There are growing signs of turbulence ahead, and as the younger generations will bear the brunt of those times, we need to address some of the issues that will potentially make the challenges for them even greater.

I’m going to highlight just two things that were discussed in separate articles in the Sydney Morning Herald recently: -

One, by Jordan Baker, headlined ‘Coddled Children Too Fragile’ warns about the threat posed not only to children but to the rest of society by parental ‘over protection’ in the middle classes of the English-speaking world. The article is inspired by author Johnathon Haidt’s bestseller “The Coddling of the American Mind” in which he says “Coddling is the determined effort of adults to deprive kids of feedback from their own experience and replace it with lectures”

He went on to explain… “When you deprive children of unsupervised play, you make them vulnerable to anxiety and depression because they fail to develop basic skills of self -regulation and interaction that will help them be successful in life”

In the same edition, Tim Soutphommasanes’ article titled “Leaders can heal but, right now, all is not well” he laments the poor example children are being set by the ‘market’ as well as by many of our leaders. “Everything now replicates the market. People’s worth is measured by their monetary value, or by the quasi-market value of social popularity.”

“And then there’s the gap between our professed ideals and lived reality. In schools and universities, we teach young people about their responsibilities to societies and the world, only to let them down through our collective failure to meet those responsibilities.”

“We teach them about public virtues, only for them to see sectional self-interest prevail. We encourage them to be democratic citizens and to use their voice, only to frown when they protest.”

Like most of us, I’ve been horrified – and angered – by the selfish greed, exposed over recent years by many of our major businesses and institutions, along with government and community leaders.

We Aussies pride ourselves on being easy going most of the time but will step up when danger calls. I believe that time is now. I believe we must insist our institutions put people and community before profit. I believe we must insist our leaders lead by positive, community building example rather that playing the fear card for power, and then using office to feather their own nest. And I believe we must refocus on ‘old’ values of strengthening our children by not only teaching them to accept responsibility for the consequences of their choices but on remembering the value of leading by good example. And doing it.

There is a Chinese proverb we would do well to heed:- If we want prosperity next year, grow grain, If we want it in 10 years, grow trees, if we want it in 20 years and beyond, invest our time, our energy and good example - in our children.

There is room for hope. As a society we are increasingly recognising the importance of early education and are investing in it. The industry is full of dedicated, well trained educators. Teachers who understand that key to teaching resilience is setting high expectations and giving children the tools to achieve them: by teaching them to take responsibility for their choices and the consequences that result. They lead by good example.

Let's hold ourselves and the rest of our society to the same standards.