[September 16, 2015] If we are speaking of citizens of the Western world then the answer is an unqualified “yes” … we are too pampered and most of us want it that way. The problem with being too pampered – “coddled” or “spoiled” as some will say – is that we shut out anything that’s uncomfortable and we demand protection from anything that would threaten us. One big problem, I propose, is that leaders are also pampering people and doing so unnecessarily.
It is natural to want to be comfortable and safe; as such it’s reasonable and socially acceptable. Many social scientists and observers of societal trends, however, have long observed that children raised in a comfortable, protected environment and where little is expected of them, apart from enjoying themselves and having fun, are generally not happy and are ill prepared for adult life. The cause of our sullen, bratty children who misbehave has been written about many times and continues to be a topic of concern for many parents.1
The children of yesteryear had household responsibilities that taught them lessons that would later prove indispensable for a successful adult life. Those who were quick to grasp concepts such as the concepts of delayed gratification, hard work, a concern for others, etc. were ultimately able to move into leadership positions that benefited everyone. Adults who failed to grasp the significance of how self-centered and bad behavior put them at a disadvantage later in life were often in trouble with the law, with their spouses, and with their employers. Their lives were filled with disappointments.
“I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.” – U.S. President Barack Obama
Pampering people has clear disadvantages when we protect them from things that, although unpleasant, will make them stronger and thus resilient to future effects of life’s inherent risks. Recently in the news we’ve see how college students have demanded that speakers with controversial viewpoints be banned from their campuses. They also have asked for speech codes where free speech is not allowed. This will produce young men and women who are unhappy and unable to experience true success or victory in their lives and they will also make very poor leaders.
The lesson for leaders is simple. Leaders must be aware of the difference between providing a comfortable and safe environment as opposed to overprotecting and coddling people. This is where leadership is difficult because many people come to us already pampered.
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- For a good example, see The Real Truth: A Magazine Restoring Plain Understanding at: http://realtruth.org/articles/437-tpg.html