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September 2015: Unconventional Wisdom: Tongue-in-Cheek Solutions to Society’s Most Vexing Leadership

Modern society has become one big mess. At least, that’s what Donald Trump says.

Mr. Trump has been busy bucking convention. That strategy has ratcheted up his popularity, which might suggest that people are fed up with convention.

That might be true in principle, but in reality, most leaders I know are stuck in convention, as if in quicksand. In fact, I would say that of all the dumb things leaders do to make matters worse instead of better, the one that stands out is their collective tendency to follow convention.

There’s only one solution to the stuckness I’m referring to: forget everything you’ve heard to this point about leadership and listen to my Ten Problems that plague leaders in the modern age.

The first five of these points address leadership problems confronting parents. These appear below.

The last five problems address leadership issues in the workplace, for the benefit of top-level leaders and mid-level managers. These will appear in Part 2, in my October, 2015 blog.

These problems are probably going to be painful to hear, but I will be here to help you through it. Think of me as your “emotional blankie” as you read.

1. Lack of Parental Worry

In my view, the absence of parental worry lies at the heart of everything that is wrong with parenting today.

Every parent knows that worry is the irrefutable sign of love. Parents should be proving their love by displaying their worry more conspicuously. Show me a worried parent and I will show you a parent who would die for their kids.

It used to be that parents were proud to worry. Mothers, particularly, have bragged about this for years. Not anymore. It’s a sad fact that many children today wonder just exactly what they have to do to incite their moms and dads to worry.

Get this straight: your kids would feel a lot more secure if you worried more.

Youngsters don’t want to be confounded by a calm, unflappable parent who refuses to get sucked into their boorish dramas and routine challenges.

They don’t want the freedom to figure something out without having to contend with their parents’ irrepressible suggestions.

What they want is for you to worry.

And as all astute parents know, whatever kids want, they should get.

“Because you’re only a kid once.”

2. Too Much Time Outside

Young people today spend entirely too much time outside. With parents bound to their home computers, the only place kids today can “get some space” is out in the elements, something most children are ill-prepared for.

Exposure to nature carries with it a cornucopia of perils, including colds from inclement weather, flu risk from encountering sickly strangers, mosquito bites, ticks, lice, scraped elbows and knees from uneven sidewalks and rough tree bark, the growing threats of air pollution and animal rabies, harmful sun rays, loud noises from thunder claps, airplanes and truck engines, and the well-publicized hazards of public shootings and terrorist attacks.

If such real-life dangers don’t scare the bejeebies out of parents, I don’t know what will.

Parents who think their kids are better off in nature should think twice about this failed philosophy.

A child’s place is in the home, where they can be carefully watched, vigilantly protected, and where they can experience the sanitized joy of video games and movies.

3. Too Much Work Around the House

It is a known fact that children in our age are chronically overworked and sleep-deprived. The last time it was this bad was the Industrial Revolution, only then, kids were sturdier and could take it.

Today, kids are more fragile. Parents are endangering their welfare by persistently undermining their kids’ sleep patterns. This occurs by insidiously imposing on young people more and more work around the house.

To accomplish their assigned chores, children are rising earlier and earlier, compromising their alertness at school. Indeed, it’s not uncommon these days to see our kids up at the crack of dawn, eyes half open, mopping the kitchen floor.

This is wrong.

It should not be the job of a child or teenager to wash clothes, make beds, dust and vacuum, clean toilets, prepare meals, wash dishes, take out the garbage, remove hairs from shower drains, replace toothpaste caps and mow lawns. Those are adult jobs.

If parents cannot handle the workload, they should bite the bullet and hire out the chores to handypersons. This step alone would result in more well-rested kids, with increased chances of admission to Ivy League colleges.

4. Too Much Quality Time as a Couple

Parents overdo it when it comes to prioritizing quality time as a couple. A little bit of this is good for the marriage, but it’s now officially over the top. The resurgence in husband-wife togetherness has become so prolific that some couples are skipping their kids’ games and concerts so they can enjoy a romantic meal in peace.

You might be wondering how marital connection could be a bad thing. It’s a bad thing because it permits kids too much autonomy.

Lack of structure is bad for kids. Don’t you remember the old saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop?” That saying only works if you believe in the devil, but still…

Just in the past year, I’ve seen children, barely 14, shopping by themselves, walking home alone from sports practice, bumming rides from friends and cavorting in parks without supervision. One guilty father confided that he and his wife gardened outside, out of earshot, while their daughter practiced the violin by herself.

That’s just plain neglectful.

Let me be blunt: Moms and dads are getting too caught up in their own selfish date nights, meaningful conversations with friends, shared prayer and lovemaking. Did you know that sex among married couples is now at its highest point since the return of WWII veterans? That’s an amazing statistic, especially if it’s true.

Obviously, parents today have too much time on their hands.

If you are a single parent, you are not off the hook. Your pre-occupation with work and online dating results in too much freedom and initiative for your children.

It’s time for us to reverse course, put our kids first, and exhaust ourselves reining them in. Let the marital chips fall where they may.

5. Not Enough Time with Our Dogs

Everywhere you go these days – except pet stores, kennels and animal shelters – dogs are being maligned and ignored.

To start with, there are 20 million more cats in the USA than there are dogs. I fear that eventually dogs will become extinct, and leave us in a terrible mess.

Let me set the record straight: dogs are not perfect. They can make old people trip and fall, sometimes poop on the rug, beg table food in front of company, bite their owners and cost a lot of money. That’s paltry compared to the way pooches keep us alive by forcing us to go for walks every day.

But we should never forget the most important function of dogs: They give us a socially acceptable way to ignore the humans we live with.

For most of us, the intensity of day to-day interactions with other humans is just too much. After dealing with people at work all day, the last thing we need is to come home and strike up a conversation with our spouses, kids or roommates.

What we need instead is a warm-blooded, living, caring being that doesn’t talk back and will do what we say. Dogs embody these virtues, and we should spend more time with them because of it.

The plain truth is that humans do not do well living together without a dog. This has been proven in generation after generation. That’s why all recent US presidents have relied on mutts as their primary companions.

It’s simple to see that our dogs are full-blown members of our families. They should not be relegated to the basement, or shunned from our dinner tables. It’s about time we took notice, and started making dogs our best friends again.

2 Responses to “September 2015: Unconventional Wisdom: Tongue-in-Cheek Solutions to Society’s Most Vexing Leadership Problems”

  1. September 01, 2015 at 10:07 am, Jay Murphy said:

One of your best works !! Thanks, John, for a great summary for the start of the day/month!! Loved it–“nail on the head.”

  1. September 01, 2015 at 5:20 pm, Alan Ziegler said:

Awesome John. George Carlin sanitized and reborn! This is immediately going out to our 8 children/parents. Thanks for the entertainment and the inherent lessons.

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