Preparing Mentally Tough Kids For A Technological Tsunami That Will Be Wonderful For Some And Devastating For Others

I see a technological tsunami coming over the next 10 years. It is made up of AI, Robotics, 3-D Printing, self-driving cars and who knows what else will be invented. The future my generation only dreamed of is about to become a reality. It will affect jobs on such a massive scale, it is scary. And it is approaching very fast.

Kids today need to be prepared for how the world will be when they become adults. They don’t know what’s coming because they are kids. So this article is not written for the kids or teenagers. It is written for parents and schools and people who effect the culture.

I am speaking with some urgency here. Consider a person’s self-esteem being so intertwined with their job. How will they feel about themselves if they languish in the new economy? They will be hard hit both externally (financially) and internally (self-esteem).

When someone, in the near future, finds they are not equipped for the available jobs, panic sets in. Now is the time to prevent much of that panic. Now is the time to prepare kids for their new future.

While there are signs of a movement going in the right direction to prepare children, I don’t think it is moving fast enough. The pace of innovation is accelerating at an accelerating pace. In many important ways, those innovations will be great, and proper, and wonderful. But in other ways, for some, it will be quite calamitous.

What is happening now is analogous to conditions just before the Industrial Revolution. While the Industrial Revolution was an event we learn about in school, it was much more than that to the people who had to go through it. They weren’t ready for it. And for that reason…there were casualties. I fear it is about to happen again.

If we aren’t careful, the coming technological tsunami will happen to someone you know, and love, within the next 10 to 20 years.

To Get Ready For The Technological Tsunami, People Need To Focus On Developing Two Important Capabilities In Our Young

There are two capacities we need to help develop in our children. They are mental toughness and the ability to deal with failure.

Let’s start with mental toughness. Here is my definition:

Mental toughness is a state of mind in which a person who finds themselves confronted by a negative, even harmful situation, does not  panic and does not turn tail and run. Instead they stand firm, they take action and they fight.

David Goggins, who many say is the toughest man on the planet, says, “The only way you gain mental toughness is to do things you're not happy doing. If you continue doing things that you're satisfied [with] and make you happy, you're not getting stronger. You're staying where you're at. Either you're getting better, or you're getting worse. You're not staying the same.” Great change is going to happen whether we like it or not. The question is what can we do to prepare the people who will live through it?

Right now, part of our culture is helping kids become strong while at the same time, other parts of our culture is causing kids to become weak by sheltering them.

Giving every child in a contest a trophy to protect them from feeling bad is giving them a false impression of reality. When those children grow up and enter the work force, they will find out that if they don’t do a good job, not only do they not get a trophy (raise or promotion), they very well could be fired. They will not understand and will be resentful and really feel bad about the world and themselves.

Now, let’s talk about learning from failure:

Failure is a part of life. And children need to learn that failure is nothing more than a learning experience where they are learning what doesn’t work. That's all.

When Sara Blakely (founder and CEO of Spanx) was young, she and her brother would be at the dinner table and their father would ask them, "What have you failed at?" Yes, you read that right. He did not ask what they had accomplished. No. He asked what they had failed at. And Sara says that if they had failed at nothing their father would be disappointed. Wow.

What Sarah’s father was teaching her was a mindset that would make a difference in her future. Instead of seeing failure as something that was bad, Sarah learned that not trying was what was bad. That mindset helped make her the youngest female billionaire on Forbes 400 list. Our children need to learn that lesson. That's the kind of mindset needed to deal with a Technological Tsunami. Let's take a deeper look into mindset.

A Certain Mindset Will Be Required To Work Well With The Technological Tsunami

A mindset is "A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations." Notice the words fixed and predetermines. Change happens. It's how a person deals with change that matters.

So let’s consider two different mindsets in relation to the Technological Tsunami fast approaching.

To begin, ask yourself which of the following mindsets is better to have when things become difficult: A mindset that says, “I should be rewarded no matter how good or bad I produce?” Or a mindset that says, “Not trying is the big mistake I don’t want to make. And, I can learn from every failure.” That's an easy one right. No, not really. Not to someone who is has gotten the wrong schooling about life.

Thomas Edison was asked what it felt like to fail 10,000 times creating the light bulb. He answered that he had not failed even once. He had learned 10,000 ways to not make a light bulb. How many people, today, are wiling to think that way? How many people are willing to work that hard? How many people think long-term?

I'm also reminded of what Thomas Watson Jr. said when asked, "How can I succeed faster?" His answer: “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” Once again, how many people, today, think that way?

So there are two capacities we, as a society, need to work on for the children who will grow up in a world we can barely imagine. The first is to help them develop mental toughness. And the second is for them to understanding that failure is nothing more than a learning experience of what not to do. That it can make a person better at what they want to achieve. This will help them to master their motivations.

The above is a good start in preparing our children for the technological tsunami barreling its way to our future. A future where the jobs of tomorrow are vastly different from the jobs of today.

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