Reality Check Thoughts by Leonard Rich
Pardon me, but I think this world needs a reality check. In an era of entitled expectations with a limited commitment to the work, young people need to understand that the journey makes the success all that more rewarding. Let us review what the “real world” may have in store for you.
Number one: you will not be rewarded for bad behavior. Excuses are not reasons. We have created a world in public education of second and third chances with little to no consequences and many safety nets to avoid failure. The “real world” will not be so kind. If you are disrespectful, if you are late, if you are an absentee problem, your economic opportunities will be minimal. If you are disobedient to the standards set by society, you may find your freedoms limited by probation, parole, or incarceration.
Number two: being told no is a part of life. Get over it. Deal with it. Maybe, overcome it. You may have wishes, wants, or desires that are rejected or disallowed. Such is life. You may be told no, you did not get the job. You may be told no, you can not miss work. You may be told no, you did not get the loan. All those no’s tell you to find another way. To set a plan to cope with the setback rather than blame the world around you.
Number three: you are part of a free society that values choice. Every choice may have a reward or consequence. Both belong to you. The better your choices the more you have a chance to succeed in your adult life. Poorer choices will lead to unwanted consequences. Perhaps it is most simply said that good or bad, you will reap what you sow.
Number four: life is not fair, get used to it. We all have to play the hand we are dealt. We all will have obstacles to overcome. We may have an easier path compared to some and a harder path compared to others. Either way, we cannot control the fairness, we can only control our actions and effort. Do not accept a lack of fairness, rather expect to out work and out perform others in order to get what you believe is deserved.
Number five: you are not the boss. We all have to answer to someone. We are not autonomous. You will face accountability for your entire adult life. Expect to work with others. Expect that at time things may not go your way. Expect to compromise. Expect to follow standards and expectations.
Number six: you are not the epicenter of the universe. This world requires you to interact with others. Expect to put others first in front of yourself. Practice servant-leadership. Know that your needs are no more or less important than the needs of the people around you.
Number seven: respect is earned, not given. Start by respecting yourself. No one else can respect you unless you respect yourself. Respect yourself by treating yourself appropriately. If you dress respectfully, act respectfully, you will gain the respect of others.
Number eight: the world owes you nothing, so work for it. My generation has given you a sense of entitlement. We need to apologize for that. In an attempt to provide you with more than we had, we have spoiled you, given you participation trophies, and allowed you to think that the world will hand you all that you need, want, and desire. Unfortunately, the world does not work like that. Life is in fact a competition with winners and losers. You will have to compete for jobs, for homes, and even for your spouse.If you are unwilling or unable to compete you may not have the job you want, live where you want, or have your soul mate end up with someone else.
Number nine: You have 2 eyes, 2 ears, and one mouth. Use them proportionately. Be a great observer. Be a good listener. Use your mouth once you have seen and heard. The world is full of untruths based on conjecture and assumptions. Use your eyes, ears, and mouth to promote the good that you see and hear.
Now that you understand the reality that you face, I want to let you in on a secret. You have the tools and talents to be successful if you want. If you make the choices, if you put in the work, if you demonstrate respect the world may very well reward you and fulfill all your hopes and dreams. You have an obligation to use your talents and fulfill your greatest potential.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Leonard Rich is Superintendent of Laurel School District and the Director of Lawrence County Career and Technical Center in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania