Aligning Expectations for the Future of Work
I could see it on her face. More so than the others. It was in all of their voices. In the tone. In the words. By the end of the meeting, it was clear. Clear that these mothers expected something very different.
It was a meeting to prepare for an upcoming sports season. I was there with my son. It will be his first year. For the mothers leading the meeting — it was years 3 or 4 for their sons.
They were frustrated. Frustrated by the fact that other local teams had greater success. Bigger crowds. More money.
The one mother. The one whose emotions were so visible on her face. She was more than frustrated. She was sad. Disappointed. The years her son had played thus far were not at all what she had expected.
She talked about her days in high school. Perhaps 25 years ago. Maybe more.
An experience where the whole town supported the team. Packed stands at home and away. Star athletes became local heroes. They returned each year for homecoming. Celebrating the glory days.
But, today, It’s different. Vastly different.
The community is incredibly diverse, with dozens of different languages spoken at home.
And, the community continues to grow. At a rate exceeding most other communities in the state.
It’s solidly middle class. But it gets there because both parents work. Full-time.
So, people here, by choice or necessity, value different things than they did 25 years ago. School sports no longer play as integral a part in the community’s identity.
But, for these mom’s. The one’s leading the meeting. Well, they’ve not factored in these changes. They’ve built expectations based upon a world that no longer exists.
That’s natural, I suppose. Particularly if this has been your home. You see the changes, but you don’t see their impact. You don’t adjust your expectations.
So now there’s a misalignment. Between expectations and reality. And, it’s having a negative impact. Preventing these moms from feeling anything other than frustration. Making them feel as if they’ve failed.
Once the meeting ended, I could see just how damaging it is to not accept changes occurring right in front of you. How a lack of adjustment, particularly of expectations, can lead to an overwhelming sense of failure.
And, that’s exactly what I fear will happen if we don’t acknowledge and understand how much work has changed. How much work will continue to change.
If we, the parents, rely just our own experiences. Set expectations based on those experiences. We run the risk that we too will feel as if we failed.
Albeit, a false failure. But, we won’t know it’s false. Just like the moms at that meeting don’t know that they have not, in fact, failed.
Failure would be no one showing up to the meeting. But, there were plenty of kids and parents. Failure would be the school no longer sponsoring the sport. But, the school’s on board. The coaches too. So, there is no failure. None.
But, the mom’s in charge have not acknowledged the impact of the rapidly changing demographics. They can’t appreciate that having a team at all is a product of their undying commitment. Success against some pretty big odds.
And, that’s the lesson here. That we may miss signs of our success as parents because our expectations are misaligned.
In our kids’ world of work, the Future of Work, careers will not look like ours. Opportunities will be different. Jobs will come. And go. Work may sometimes be independent, free from any one employer. Additional education may be required.
In our experiences, any one of these things would be a sign of a stagnant career. But, in the Future of Work, each of these will be normal.
If the expectation for our kids is a steady climb up the corporate ladder, thanks to our investment in a four-year degree, we’re in for a bumpy ride. We’ll be frustrated, maybe even disappointed. We’ll feel as if we failed. Running the risk that our kids will feel they failed too.
But, if we acknowledge and seek to understand the changes that are coming, we can align our expectations with our kids’ reality. Avoid the frustration and disappointment. Be able to see, appreciate, even celebrate, success. Our kids’, as well as our own.