Summer Offers Life Lessons
“Back to school sale!” “I hate those words,” says 17-year-old Tom. “It means that the fun is almost over and it’s time to get back to learning.”
Do you remember those days? Did you try squeezing every last drop out of your summer?
Unfortunately as the line between being “in” and “out” of school becomes more pronounced so does the myth of learning.
Today’s quarterlifers—people between 16-34—have come to believe that true learning only occurs within the structured world of academics. Quarterlifers think, “I’ve got two months to play before I have to get serious about school and my future again.”
Here’s the mistake. Most experiential learning occurs during the months of summer vacation. Think about it. It’s the time in which quarterlifers begin working, socializing and having their first taste of freedom.
The myth of learning struck me during a recent radio interview. My guest, a consultant for Yahoo! and considered one of the leading marketers of our time, flatly told me he learned and developed his marketing skills back when he was a camp counselor.
“I learned how to do it in summer camp.” He told me. “At my summer camp I was the canoeing instructor. The way the system worked is that each instructor had to persuade campers to spend time doing their activity.
“When I took over the number of people who chose to canoe was close to zero.
“I really wanted to succeed at that job so I got good at standing in front of 250 people and saying things that sounded silly or that made a fool of myself.
“That’s what they wanted to hear and it worked. That’s where I learned marketing. Not at Stanford where I later earned a business degree.”
I bet if you’re honest with yourself you’d discover a similar experience in your past. Perhaps it was the responsibility you learned as a life guard, the customer skills you learned taking orders at McDonalds or the creativity you learned as a babysitter. Summer vacation is full of life lessons. These lessons give us valuable clues as to what careers and lifestyles will best fit us in the future.
As summer vacation wraps up here is a simple exercise you can do with your sons or daughters to help them become aware of the life lessons they learned over the past two months. Have them write out five answers to the question, “What did I do this summer that I enjoyed doing and feel I did well?” After they have written out their answers look to see what similarities exist in the activities.
Did they enjoy activities that involved….
Learning new information
Doing technical work
Finding new solutions
When you help your quarterlifers identify the reoccurring theme to activities they enjoyed doing this summer and previous summers it will make it easier for them to identify the career path that best fits them. Plus they’ll realize that learning can be fun!
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