[November 8, 2021] I have a general rule that I don’t argue with close-minded people. Good counsel says, “Never wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” And for that reason, I also rarely offer advice. In today’s article, I will tackle the problem of arguing with or giving advice to “woke” teenagers.
I’m being realistic here. The famous metaphorical adage about wrestling with pigs warns us not to engage with dishonest folks. Arguing with or giving advice to “woke” teenagers is a no-win situation. Those who’ve raised a teenage boy or girl without another parent present can undoubtedly sympathize with the obvious difficulty.
On many occasions, I’ve been asked to give advice to a wide-range of teenagers, those who are like the proverbial pig and those who are focused on going into the military. Teenagers in the latter category are easier to get along with but are not necessarily easier to convince that certain types of behavior will harm their chances of success as an adult.
However, if we look across all cultures and recorded history, we see common themes that seem to predict success and happiness. Several years ago, I canvassed a group of senior leaders for advice they would give to young leaders. The list is pretty good, with 16 specific things you can do to help you be successful. A year later, I wrote about the best advice from junior leaders. A larger sample and a longer list of 20 things anyone can do to improve their chances of success are listed here.
I wrote these articles before the idea of “woke” raised its ugly head.
Here is my thinking today about what advice I would give “woke” teenagers. First, don’t argue. It does no good, and they will think they won you over just because they were there. Smile. That always gets them in the heart. Second, keep the message short, very very short.
Here is my short advice to “woke” teenagers. I have two things they should do. These are not easy, but they are deceptively simple. No one I know can do it successfully all the time. And that is why there are only two of them. Easy to remember, hard to ignore.
- Tell the truth, at least do not lie.
- Adopt responsibility.
Yep, that’s it. Of course, there is more to these, and I am happy to explain why. But these set the foundation for a successful, fulfilling life. Otherwise, they will be perpetually angry, frustrated, and abusive to others. Start with the truth and be responsible. There is no other way.
Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).