I‘m waiting to board the plane back to LA and working on our new book that will help families prepare their children for the future of work. In a world where the average college graduate will change careers four to six times, everything in how we engage with our children is up for grabs. The transformative change ahead means that rather than telling our children what to do with their lives that we must help them define what they want to do, even what they were born to do, and build the life skills to succeed in that vision.

In the guest lounge, I’m absorbed in a narrative that has captured the minds and hearts of my co-author and other members of our team. The man next to me has been quietly working for past hour and is having a coffee. Suddenly, he interrupts me.

“You are working so intensely on that document, would it be rude of me to ask what it is?”

I tell him and his face floods with love and fear. He tells me of his daughter. He’s badgered her about what she wants to do with her life. He says, “We’ve been at war for almost two years.”

I ask, “What does she want to do?”

“She wants to study marine biology.”

“What is wrong with that?”

“Well, there are so many careers where she could make more money and have a brighter future.”

“You are probably doing the same thing your parents did with you.”

There is a period of intense silence, he looks up and I witness the surrender as he opens his mouth. He asked, “I’m wrong, aren’t I?”

I respond, “Yes, you are.”

“What shall I do?”

“Go home and tell her you were wrong to imply ‘Don’t be you.’ Go home and tell her that you love what she wants to do with her life because it is honorable and good. Tell her she is going to become a wonderful marine biologist. Tell her it isn’t your place to tell her what to do with her life but as her father, you will do your very best to help her understand how to succeed.”

The hostess comes over to remind him his flight is ready. He turns at the door and looks at me as if he has seen a ghost. For a flash his eyes well up, face flushed he mouths the words, “Thank you.”

I realize I will never see him again.

There is an older Lesbian couple in the seats ahead of me. They are celebrating retirement with a first class trip to Costa Rica.

The guy next to me resembles a Shaman.

I’m looking out the window as the lakes and rivers speed below.

Tears fall.

I think of her.


David Harder
David Harder
DAVID founded Inspired Work in 1990, which has helped over 42,000 professionals transform their relationship towards work. Individuals from all walks of life attend Inspired Work’s public programs to launch new careers, new business or to become more successful in their existing role. He views work as a profound opportunity to become more fulfilled, contributive and effective. Mr. Harder’s leadership, employee engagement, executive development and social networking programs are used in a wide variety of organizations including The Walt Disney Company, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Loyola Marymount University, University of Southern California, The United Church of Religious Science, Morgan Stanley, and many others. Inspired Work’s leadership programs, career development and team building programs produce some of the worlds most outstanding satisfaction numbers in any business: 92.6% out of a hundred. David has appeared on many business and human-interest programs including CNN, KTLA News, KFWB News and Business News Network. David’s book, new book, The Workplace Engagement Solution (Career Press) offers an entire “crack-the-code” approach to engagement.

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  1. Enjoyed this article and have come from a generation of parental disaster, although I honor them as my parents now passed, it is most important that we cultivate the gifts God gives to our children through; as you put it, their DNA. It’s really not about the money although it is nice to have that peace of mind but i feel that if our young are supported in their God given gifts, the financial support will come. Thank you

  2. We must promote entrepreneurship education in schools and transfer to young people the skills for employability and the development of a proactive approach to work, study and personal life.
    In general young people “should” be accompanied promptly and addressed to build a schooling and vocational education that leads in the shortest as possible to the right job. They must learn to govern the choices and navigate the skills (and opportunities) that the market demands. An effective and realistic approach to enabling young people to better design their own future, to tune their expectations and ambitions with the reality of the labor market and, for this purpose, directing their studies. Communicate “employability” to avoid the frequent distortions about the expectations and the actual opportunities. An orientation that before, during and after the course of study will allow to change mental orientation, or become aware of new professional environments or to find another, because not all studies “liked” give concrete openings. That encourages young people to a deep reflection about themselves and to develop expectations tailored to the realities of employment. In reality, then, in a world full of suggestions like the present, basically parents can set an example in terms of seriousness and integrity, ensure with disenchantment and be found present at the time. Because young people must be free to evaluate their resources, their skills, make their own choices and experiences.

    • Hello Adlo, So good to hear from you. We will be in Rome next week. We come from the point-of-view that children come into this world with unique career DNA and it is our responsibility to help them find and define that. It is also time for us to teach our children the skills that allow anyone to become successful in their careers. For example, instead of simply teaching them how to manage a checkbook, how about teaching our young people to sell their value? Their ideas? In our opioning this is the future of work.