If there were one question I wish I could ask prospective employees, it would be: Have you graduated from childhood yet? Then, I would hire the people who said yes and could prove they graduated from childhood.
It’s not that I don’t love children. I have one and love her more than life itself.
It’s just that the demands of my workplace involve employees using the kind of grown up thinking and behaviors that only childhood graduates can muster.
By graduating, I mean you have resolved the big issues of the surreal experience that was your childhood. Everyone’s childhood is surreal. Think about it. During the first several years of your life, giants surrounded you while talking in indistinguishable sounds.
Without notice, people picked you up off your back or feet. For no apparent reason, they smiled at you. Or smacked you. All decisions were made for you. You were constantly being coddled, trained, regarded, disciplined or painfully ignored.
Put in a couple of years like that or 18 of them, and you have a lot to get over.
And yet, the workplace that you enter after those years – or the stay of execution that is college and graduate school – only rewards people who have the skills of an adult.
Work demands you make decisions about your loss of freedom. It’s almost always a trade-off between doing exactly what you’d like to do versus doing what needs to be done. Rarely do those things match up perfectly. Adults have to see potential choices, use self-determination, make commitments, manage anger or disappointment, and exhibit a surfeit of self-control.
When you feel lost, under-utilized, left out, over-burdened, angry or clueless about what your boss or colleagues are doing – and what you should be doing given their actions, it’s simply a sign that you haven’t yet graduated from childhood.
Most employers are looking for grown-ups. And most employees haven’t had the guidance to truly graduate from their childhood.
This graduation isn’t the walk across a stage or a piece of paper with fancy writing. You probably have a good bit of reading and writing to do, to sort out who you are and what your purpose is. You probably need to ask and answer some big questions to get you started on self-determination, self-reliance and resilience.