Dear Next Generation,
When I was 19, there were nuclear warheads pointed in every direction in the midst of the Cold War. I was convinced I would not be able to see my life come to fruition because the end was near. My own mother advised: “We live through the end of the world, dear. We’re still here. Live your life. Plan for the future. Odds are, you will live to see it.”
Mom is now 95. I’m a doctor and mother of two adult sons. Here we all are again at an ominous crossroads, wondering whether there will be a future for our children, grandchildren, and our culture.
My advice: Live your life. Be thankful for every moment. Plan for the future. Listen to your inner voice. Don’t take any of your freedoms for granted. Leave room for the unexpected.
God bless you all.
I have the highest hopes for your happiness and welfare as you navigate through the years. Be curious. Learn from simple but meaningful poetry. Study philosophy, logic, virtue, ethics, morality. Read for pleasure as well.
Be a listener more than a talker. Be kind and compassionate. Reach out a helping hand, and gratefully accept one should the occasion arise. There is strength in this. Be a friend.
Never does it pay to be hurtful, unkind, or dishonest. Happiness won't be found in acquiring goods or relationships. It is found within you. Journey there, you'll find a Spark of Divinity where all good flourishes!
Be mindful, seek truth, be joyful. Laugh—it's great medicine!
Life is a paradox! Find balance among work, play, and pray.
That is the first lesson I would impart: welcome change. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, but it's always there, so you might as well learn to live with it, or even benefit from it.
Another trait I learned from my parents was my work ethic. I can be as lazy as the next person, but when I'm called upon to do a job, I DO IT.
Anything my employer asked me to do. And with enthusiasm. This sounds so simple, but after employing more than a thousand people over the years, I continue to emphasize it.
First real job: 13 years old, working in the garage of a sandwich company, changing oil on delivery trucks. I took two buses to get to work and was thrilled with my hourly wage of $1.33, but horrified when I saw my first paycheck (taxes!).
Summer college job: worked for the Post Office, walking routes of "real" mailmen who were on vacation. After learning the route (took a day or so), I challenged myself to reduce the time it took me to complete the route. I earned scorn from "real" P.O. employees for showing it could be done faster.
Another college job: worked at a metal stamping plant, churning out parts for A.C. vents. After learning the machine, I again challenged myself and was able to hold my foot on the pedal and watch the pieces continuously fly through the fabricator. One day, the plant manager said to me, "One day, you will own a plant like this." At the time, it didn't much affect me, but later I realized what a tremendous compliment that was. And he was right.
These two values, when added to the ability to accept occasional failures and move on, directed my entrepreneurial life. With my wife as my partner, I have done well financially. We lost everything in the 2008 crash, but rebuilt and are now comfortable again. And those values of embracing change and working hard were instrumental.
Today, I'm like so many old guys, bemoaning the "snowflakes" and asking the question that has been asked for generations: "What's happened to the younger generation?" But, like always, there are exceptional young people out there doing the right things well. And, like always, it takes values like those I was naturally blessed with but which can also be learned.
The way I see it, this workforce and this work environment offer the conscientious worker a tremendous opportunity to rise to the top. When we see employees who "have it," we know it almost immediately. They stand out, and we give them even more opportunity to shine.
I would encourage young adults to be mindful of a power greater than themselves. Think outside the box as you live your life. Be observant and be slow to speak. Analyze both sides of an issue and refuse to be told what to think, how to think, or dictated to. Insist on fairness and objectivity from the media. Study history to learn lessons of the past; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The last and most important element is to be "others focused"! The satisfaction derived from being of service is incalculable. So get out there, the world needs you and is counting on you!
D. Edward Floyd____________________
As you reach your critical stage of independence in the teenage years, challenge yourself to cultivate multi-generational friendships, both within and outside blood-related kin. It's deeply rewarding to learn from your elders.
I propose that a gentle walk in nature will yield value.
We also learn from truly listening to the younger generation(s). Often a child's filterless insights are brilliant!
In 2020, I'm witnessing the separation of generations, polarized political parties, and the segmentation of faith, ethnicity, gender identification, race, and socio-economic status. Challenge yourself to be a gardener of life—rise to nurture friendships with those who may not look, think, or sound like you on the surface. Aim to know their heart. Start by sharing yours.