Wake Up Young People, Nobody Is Going To Save You

The older I get, the more I realize how necessary it is for people first starting out to find a mentor.  A mentor is there to guide you through all the landmines in a career or start-up venture.  In fact, I encourage everyone to get a mentor with every serious endeavor they are about to undertake.

You are special.  You deserve the world and can do anything.”  These words do more damage to young people than any insult.  If all you hear growing up is how special you are, you’re going to develop the biggest entitlement attitude ever!  You’re going to think you walk on water and your shit don’t stink.

Is there any wonder why the most typical complaint by the 99% protest movement is not getting a dream job after going tens of thousands of dollars in debt?  What is wrong with picking crops and making hamburgers? College graduates are told to go to school, don’t be afraid to take out massive debt because their lives will be great since they are so special.  As a result, they aren’t willing to put in the hours to get straight A’s, work unpaid internships every summer to gain experience, and develop technical skills beyond the classroom.  Being told they are special DOOMS them.

This is why growing up in a free and developed country like the United States is pretty easy, ironically.  If you don’t have the “I’m special” attitude, then you will never be delusional.  And since so many of your peers think they are special, they aren’t willing to put the extra time and effort into whatever they are doing.  Just realizing you are just another nobody will put you far ahead in this world.

In “How To Succeed The Dumb And Easy Way” on Untemplater.com, I try and knock some sense into folks who need a nice kick in the pants.  I love the stories and interviews there because it shows how people can live differently.  The Untemplaters make it look easy, but that’s what skilled people do.  Feel free to share your thoughts here or there!

Do you believe you’re special?

Photo: Hissing Stray Baby Cat, Venice, 2011.  Sam.  Can you guess the symbolism?

Best,

Sam

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Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Darwin's Money says

    I think reality is setting in for today’s twenty-somethings and it’s got to be quite unsettling. It’s a shame how the opportunities and standard of living in this country continue to decline each decade, I cringe at what it will look like by the time my children are out of school.

    I don’t think the current around of kids got the “hope and change” they thought they were voting for.

  2. says

    I think way too many people expect everything to be handed to them because they’re “special.” They need to learn that it takes hard work to get where you want to be. I know a couple of recent college grads who haven’t been able to find a job yet, but it seems all they do is sit around playing video games half the day. They must think someone will just knock on their door unexpectedly and offer them their dream job. Good luck with that.

  3. says

    I think the problem starts with many parents and how they coddle their children. We love our kids and dote on them, but we also teach them to be self-sufficient, and will continue to do so as they grow up. I see parents of 10-12 year olds kids drive to pick up their kids from the bus stop, which is eight houses away. On sunny, warm days. You’re telling me those kids can’t walk 500 feet to their house from the bus stop? These are exactly the type of kids that, in 10 years, will wonder why the rest of the world isn’t bowing down to serve their every need.

  4. says

    Sam, what are your thoughts on sports leagues handing out participation trophies to everyone who plays?

    Yeah, I thought so. It’s just setting kids up for a massive failure when they don’t even have minor failures in anything until college.

    • says

      I was just going to comment on this myself!! We are the “everyone always wins” generation. When you combine that with the fact that there are actually relatively fewer winners to go around then there was 30-40 years ago, you get the recipe for a whole lot of misplaced anger and frustration.

      The only appropriate consequence of this situation is that now parents can continue to tell their children how special and perfect they are 24 hours a day – because they are 30 and still living at home!

  5. JR says

    Perhaps this is a problem that began further back, developmentally speaking. The under 25 year olds grew up never having to actually TRY. If they wanted to play ball, they were put on the team, regardless of ability. If they wanted to be on any other team, they had to be made part AND be allowed to play.

    I understand the team-building idea behind sports, and other group activities. When I was growing up that was getting outdoors at the old school yard or a park and playing some impromptu game- usually that we made up on the spot. I’m sure we argued and fought sometimes, but we figured it out. Not to mention that we got the mile or so to the park by walking or bicycling.

    I see kids now up to 15-17 yrs old whose parents are still doing things for them like homework, college prep paperwork, etc. It makes me wonder what the kids are going to do if/when they leave home. Could they get a job? Function as an individual? I wonder if the parent still cuts up their meat at dinner. I’ve seen examples that make me think the umbilical cord is still intact.

    I understand the urge to protect your child. That is why we educate them, teach them skills and expose them to as much of the world as we possibly can. Provide for them open communication that is honest. Being a parent I think means not only actively teaching your child, but also allowing the child to learn from the environment and ask questions. I think kids should fully experience their world as they grow and develop. As a parent I should allow that to happen, of course making adjustments for age-specific safety concerns. (can’t have a toddler playing w/ sharp objects or open electrical circuits)

    So I think that we’ve created a generation that has been told since infancy that they ARE entitled. Whether directly or indirectly. That they should expect to get what they want just b/c they’ve shown up at the park. If no one has ever told them “No” and stood firm- or been allowed to stand firm- the overall base psychology will not change. This is the fruit of our own labors.

    • says

      Is there no sense of entitlement for older generations? Surely the supposed “greatest generation” and subsequent “baby boomers” aren’t free from the chains of entitlement, are they?

      • JR says

        Not saying that older generations don’t have an entitlement problem as well. I was speaking from my own observations. Many of the older generations seem to have a similar sense of entitlement. The older gen. sense of entitilement seems more in the vein of “I’ve worked at my job all this time, been loyal to ___, now I deserve _____”

        Perhaps it is less generational, as such, and more that the issue is just becoming worse or more ingrained w/ each successive generation.

        Perhaps the current mode of thinking goes back to the “boomers”. Just a thought. I’m of the opinion that if you trace a line long enough you can discover some interesting things. As long as you have no expectations in that search.

      • says

        I would suggest “The Greatest Generation” had reason to feel slightly entitled since they fought in a World War and all. I definitely wouldn’t pair they and the Boomers up under the same banner.

        As a teacher I am so consistently frustrated by parents who repeatedly harass me until their child gets a good grade. I have no leverage to tell them that they are actually crippling their child, and eventually you just get too wore down to fight. I’d rather place my energy where I am helping someone instead of fighting, so they just get the grade. Many of these parents are tail end of the boomers, or the first boomer grand-children and I’m not sure what weird parenting cycle led to this lack of accountability mindset, but it is truly disturbing.

        • JR says

          You make part of my point from w/i. I know some folks in education and hear stories that make me cringe. Parents thinking the child should pass just b/c the kid is enrolled. I think the child should: 1- have respect for the teacher, and 2- only pass if they learn. I also think that parents and teachers should work in tandem for the mutual success of the child. Which is only to say assist the child, not do for the child.

          I would seem that “just getting the grade” is not helping anyone, especially not the child in the classroom. If the child is not learning or studying, is disruptive or disrespectful they get the respective grade.

          Good on ya for what you do. I will always remember well those teachers I had who made me learn, even at my cockiest back in school. If you can do for your kids what my teachers did for me, you too will live long in your students’ memories. Keep up the good work.

      • says

        Each generation thinks the next generation works less hard. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but it sure seems that way.

        We can solve this perception by always respecting our elders. It’s the lack of respect which probably helps engender this type of thinking against younger generations.

  6. says

    As a 20-something, I am aware of this tendency, and have to force myself to fight against it in my self. I was just thinking recently that although I don’t *want* to go home from work and study up on things to be better at my job, it would be SO EASY to clearly be better at work than my peers if I took this extra step. Since I know none of them would even consider it.

  7. says

    Of course I’m special, but that doesn’t mean I expect every person I meet to agree with me and offer me everything I’ve ever wanted. It doesn’t mean I’m entitled to special treatment. My brothers made sure I understood that growing up. I don’t think it’s thinking I was special that made becoming an adult difficult for me. It was that I didn’t even have to try to get through high school and college. I’m very book smart, unfortunately that doesn’t really translate well to the real world. I think that handicaps people coming out into the job market almost as much as feeling entitled to their every wish. The way schools are passing everyone these days, regardless of effort, just to boost their self-esteem, is a shame.

      • says

        Adjusting to the reality that being book smart doesn’t translate into money. Pursuing purely an intellectual degree in college without looking ahead to life after college was a big mistake. I really couldn’t see myself using my degree straight out of school. Anything I’d want to do with it requires a Master’s degree or better, and I’ve realize I really don’t want to do those things. The only person who brought up questions about after college was my grandmother. I should have paid more attention to her.

  8. says

    A mentor would have done me plenty of good, but even I can admit that I’m not entirely sure I would have listened. I have a lot of fear placing complete trust in someone else’s assessment of what is or isn’t reality. It’s cost me in a few places, and benefited me in others.

    I’m sure I could have put together excellent grades; I also had great grades when I was younger, but eventually the challenge was lost with school and I found other intellectual pursuits that were more stimulating to me than the same repeated homework. I like the path less traveled; it’s fun, exciting, and never the same from day to day. But one thing is certain: it’s no straight line, there’s plenty of ups and downs.

  9. says

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the entitlement attitude is limited to the ‘younger’ generation. I see plenty of people in their 40s spending all kinds of crazy money because they ‘deserve’ something. Had a bad day? Time to go spend. If investments (like a house) don’t go the way people want, they can walk away because they DON’T deserve a bad investment.

    In this world, it is very hard to teach kids to work hard, appreciate what they have, etc when there are so many bad examples all around them. I do what I can, but the world is a much bigger place than my 5 person household.

    • JR says

      What you seem to be referring to is what I call ‘the disposables.’ Those who do not see much, if anything as an investment. To them everything is disposable; whether it is money, a car, house, clothing, electronics or a job.

      They seem to all be the 40 and under crowd. I paint w/ a broad brush in that statement, I realize. There are of course outliers older and younger, and others who do not ‘fit’ what I am saying. But very generally, it seems to the case from what I see around me.

      To them, everything is someone else’s fault; and as you say, “they don’t deserve a bad investment.” I think that is part of the reason for the loan problem, the banking problem, and the unemployment problem. I also think it contributes to the education problem and overall population problem. Everything ties together.

      We can only affect our immediate area and attempt to spiral outward from there. Out influence ends only when we stop trying.

  10. says

    I got back and forth on whether this is a generational problem…or just a group of people who were fed lies…

    Some fantastic quotes to share with an older person:

    “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” Socrates

    “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” Plato

    “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on
    frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond
    words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and
    respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise
    [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint” (Hesiod, 8th century BC).

  11. says

    I dont think i’m special – just some hard work and luck to get where I am. I also agree with a few comments above – I’m not sure this is just generational or not. Some people my age smack of this attitude, and some are more like me – they dont believe anything they hear. I think this whole “you are special” attitude comes from new age parenting in the 80s that has basically destroyed peoples self esteem and motivation to take on tough tasks without a parent present. If your parent isnt there to back you up and tell you that you’re special and that you can do it, i’ve literally seen people start to cry at the thought of doing something they have never done before. It’s awful.

  12. says

    The mentor you are looking for is your parents! They should be asking these kids some pointed questions to help them in school, career and life. Parents are the original mentors and can help quite a bit by just asking questions. I still do this with my children and they are in their thirties. Just asking the questions makes the other person think about the issue.

    • says

      Agree. It all starts with the parents. What are your 30-something year old kids up to nowadays? How are they seeing the world and politics and the economy now? Do they expect SSecurity etc?

      • says

        One is an executive with a multi-billion company and the other a lawyer. They see things through a rather realistic set of glasses where they depend on themselves to make life a success. The best part of a continuing relationship is they talk with us often and I can influense them. Mentoring never stops!

  13. says

    Sam,

    You make it sound like all young people are lazy or entitled, and that everyone should just take the initiative and create a blog and start earning online income. I agree with much of what you are saying but I can totally understand and emphasize with the frustrations of those college grads who can’t find a job.

    I graduated in 03 and caught the tail end of a booming economy, and was able to find a decent job, gain valuable experience, and then open a business which I then later lost in 08 (but I made money!).

    Many of my friends, especially those who graduated later, were not so fortunate. They graduate saddled with with debt and end up working crappy jobs totally unrelated to their majors that barely cover their living expenses and loan payments. Does this make them lazy or entitled? None of my friends associate themselves with the 99%. I know for a fact they don’t feel “entitled” to anything, and many of them are working two jobs to pay off their student loans, or going back to school for more degrees to make themselves more competitive to recruiters. They are not the 99%, but merely victims of circumstance and the economy.

    Although I don’t believe that I “deserve” anything, I believe that I am “Special” and that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I will be teaching my kids that should I ever have any in the future. I think its important to teach young people to always aim for things higher than their current ability. To never be complacent with the way things are, and always strive to make yourself better. I don’t know what your definition of “special” is but being “special” does not automatically equate to “entitlement”.

    • says

      Robin, that’s not my intention, but I can see how it may look that way. I can’t help but come across so much delusion online and online that I wanted to send this message.

      Your kids will be lucky!

  14. says

    I’m glad I found a mentor. Not necessarily to tell me I’m doing good, but to help me with my personal development. She is great to bounce issues off of, and help me navigate the politics that inevitably comes the higher up in an organization you go.

  15. says

    I think growing up with friends who always had more than me was great motivation. My parents have always been a mess financially which taught me that if I wanted to live a good life I’d have to become completely independent and work hard to make my own money.

  16. says

    I think it goes back to a movement in parenting – spare the rod and spoil the child. Instead of getting spanked for doing something wrong like most of us got growing up in the ’70′s and ’80′s, they were “talked to” and explained that their actions were wrong. Maybe they had to sit in “time out” or go to their rooms (which were full of toys and video games – what torment!) The consequences for their actions weren’t painful, so making poor choices became a habit. Now I’m not condoning spanking, but consequences need to be on the harsh side to get the point across.

    • says

      I wish my mom talked to me more about the wrongness of my ways instead of making me stick my hands out and getting hit with a long wooden spoon!

      That is funny though… “go to your room, and play Wii!” lol

      Heck, I’m glad I was spanked. I was a bad boy.

  17. says

    Hmmmm, this post gave me a paper-cut under my fingernail. I know you’re speaking from your own experience which is valid, but I’m 22, I started my own company and if you think my friends and I are unaware of the financial mess our parents are leaving us with, it just isn’t true! Even the WSJ today posted a video lambasting the older generations because of the huge wealth disparity and the mess they’ve left us with. As far as thinking we’re special, you’ve got to be kidding! We grew up in the globalized world of “you don’t matter” and the universe is a speck so why even try.

    I believe that if we seem delusional it’s because we know all to well the challenges ahead of us and we need to separate ourselves from this crappy situation we fell into and just press forward. And as far as mentors, SHOW me where to get ‘em I’d LOVE one!

    Here’s the link to the WSJ video I mention: http://online.wsj.com/video/gap-between-younger-and-older-americans-widening/32792E5A-1763-4562-953D-AF99F9631BC6.html

    • says

      Ouch!

      You provided some new perspective I’ve never heard a 20-something say before. This is great.

      The post is directed towards complainers and those who think the world is unfair and whine about their situation instead of doing.

      Pick anybody with a couple years experience in thefield you want to be in and ask them to be your mentor. They will be honored to help.

      • says

        I do have to say the whiners (I believe you’re referring to Occupy Wallstreet-ers I know I am!) are getting old for me to. Let’s face it redistribution of wealth is just crazy talk. Thanks for the advice on mentors and for not hating me for challenging your view!!

  18. says

    I remember hearing President Obama’s speech about how were going to bounce back because we as a people are special in the united states. I thought to my self “Why”? Are we different from the people in the other countries? But that “We’re special” kind of mentality didn’t foster a sense of a let’s get our hand dirt and get America back on track…

    I know my comment isn’t exactly what you are talking about, but it’s definitely in the same ballpark.

  19. andrea says

    I’m not special by any means. I have no skills that others can’t beat, I’m painfully average but I am DIFFERENT.

    I am fortunate to have gotten a good start in life thanks to my parents ,but I realize it can all be taken away in the blink of an eye. It’s why I ended up here, in this community. I’m trying to get my shit together and take care of myself. I want freedom and independence and I’m not going to get that by behaving the same way as 75% of my classmates at university, many of whom are 3-4 years younger than I. I just want to shake them. It’s delusional to waste so much money and expect a good job right away. Learn a good work ethic by doing the crap jobs and working your way up, then I’ll be impressed.

  20. Brett says

    I think this is absolute BS. My parents were extremely supportive growing up, almost to the point of coddling me if I’m being perfectly honest, but they, and many other parents, were very careful to remind me that everyone else is special as well and that I would need to work hard to get ahead in life.

    You had a few relevant points in here. Many students do treat college as a party and let their grades slip as a result. The lack of extracurricular technical skill development is also an area that students should focus on. Many of your other points, particularly the working of unpaid internships, are absurd. Work at any level from “picking crops and flipping hamburgers” up to the running of a multinational corporation deserves compensation. You are deluding yourself if you think that the “tutelage” gained in a typical internship is in any way, shape, or form proper compensation for the amount of work put in.

    Every single person deserves to be told they are special on a regular basis because, quite frankly, they are. Encouraging people to refrain from this sort of affirmation is, at best, misguided. Encouraging the next generation to believe that they are special, that they can do amazing things, is what led us out of the caves and into the modern age. Big dreams are what made America, and the world as a whole, great.

    Your financial advice in your other articles is sound but in the future I would leave the psychology to someone more qualified.

    • skrpune says

      Well put, and I agree. Also, there are folks who have done all the right things and are still not employed…the number of qualified people looking for work far outnumbers the available positions.

      And last I checked, flipping burgers doesn’t exactly pay a fair living wage – an average of $20k per year won’t pay for very much in most large urban areas.

  21. says

    In college, we were told we would have great jobs and a high salary just for graduating with a paper. Didn’t quite work out that way, but I learned my lesson when I went and finished a bachelor’s at university. There were no false promises there, but the hard work paid off.

  22. says

    We are not special. There are plenty out there who are willing to work harder, can work faster, and would love to be in our places. I had a pretty crappy start to life, but I won’t get anywhere by blaming others, will I? I also had a great grandmother who has shown me the value of being persistent and stubborn. I only wish I had really taken the lessons to heart earlier in life, because I had many advantages that she didn’t just by being born several decades later. So many people don’t realize just how good they have it today, compared to other places or earlier times.

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