5 Truths School Leavers Need to Be Told

By: Michael McQueen

With the next crop of school leavers about to flood into the ‘real world’, here are 5 truths they must be told (and may not have learned at school).

1. Sometimes there is a loser

While every runner in the race at school may have gotten a ribbon, life simply doesn’t operate the same way. Sometimes there are losers. Sometimes you don’t get the job. Sometimes you will face disappointment and even constructive criticism. It’s not that your boss (or the universe) is ganging up on you. Failure is simply an opportunity to get better not bitter. Learn from it without getting resentful or defensive.

2. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it is wrong

Unlike your parents who were raised being told that life was never meant to be easy, you have been told the very opposite message by advertisers and pop culture – that if life isn’t easy, then something is wrong. If the relationship gets hard? Wrong person. Subject at TAFE/Uni is difficult? Wrong course. Job gets tough? Wrong career path. The problem with this is that every worthwhile pursuit starts off being difficult. Mastery however lies on the other side of hardship. It is in the challenges that your capacity is increased, your character will be forged and your resilience is strengthened. Sometimes life is hard and that’s OK. Your grandparents were right – what doesn’t kill you truly does make you stronger.

3. There is no such thing as a job that’s ‘beneath you’

Your Baby Boomer parents had the best of intentions in setting you up to have ‘all the things they never had.’ You have been raised to believe that you deserve the best and that’s not a bad thing. Don’t be fooled though: you’re not entitled to the best – just the opportunity to attain it. Starting at the bottom is not beneath you. Menial work is not just a necessary function of our economy but also a rite of passage most of us need to go through. So brace yourself for the reality that you probably won’t start out in middle management. Your first job may not be an experience of self actualising bliss, and you may not earn more than $30,000 in your first year. Every ladder has a first rung for a reason – start there.

4. Your attitude matters more than your academic results

Contrary to all that your well-meaning and hard working teachers have told you, the rest of life will not hinge on exam results and tertiary entrance rankings. Sure, good marks give you options and make your parents proud, but in the real world attitude counts for everything. The good news is that employers will quickly overlook the poorest academic results if they see you are hard working, teachable, reliable and just plain-old polite.

5. Your inexperience is your greatest asset

While every job you apply for will say you need experience, remember it is your inexperience that is actually your greatest asset. You are entering a work world where countless organisations and employees are operating on autopilot – doing things a certain way because that’s the way it’s always been done. Your fresh eyes and unblinkered perspective can be the greatest source of innovation and creativity for your future employers. You will have a unique ability to offer an out-of-the-box perspective simply because you don’t know what the box even looks like just yet. This is powerful. Ask questions. Challenge the status quo. But remember, do this with humility and a willingness to learn and you’ll earn huge respect from those around you.

Article supplied with thanks to Michael McQueen.

About the Author: Michael McQueen is an award-winning speaker, social researcher and best-selling author.

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