The thinking gap

Red Rock Canyon, outside Las Vegas, Nevada USA

“Forcing others to do things your way will often constrain them to make your same mistakes.”

The one inevitability about personal growth and development is that it typically points out something within ourselves which needs to be changed. Often, it indicates a part of our thinking, perceptions, or awareness which we believed were correct, but now realize contained flaws. It is a daily goal of mine to find at least one growth moment no matter how small or major it may be.

A rather compelling moment happened last June. I play second trumpet in the Henderson Symphony and the upcoming concert featured some popular jazz standards. We recruited the assistance of a trumpet player from the local university named Kurt. This was his first time performing with the orchestra and after hearing him warm up, he had on him what brass players refer to as quite a “set of chops.” One of the pieces on the program was, “In The Mood” which featured a solo for my part. I hadn’t practiced enough before the first rehearsal and wanting to spare myself some embarrassment, I asked him to trade parts. He shook his head no and immediately my thoughts went to, “whatever happened to respect your elders”?

Needless to say, I was a bit agitated but shortly after the first note, I realized he was playing the first part and had he agreed to switch, the music would have been more demanding than my current one. When the time came for my solo, I stumbled through it and after the first run-through, I thanked him for not obliging. This young man’s refusal to accept what was essentially a demand, spared me additional awkwardness and also forced me to go home and “woodshed” the part; compelling me to do a better job.

Not only was this a lesson I’ll never forget, it also sheds light on another important subject. Many in my generation often dismiss or scorn the attitudes of those in younger ones; but I have a different outlook from most Baby Boomers. Gen Xers and Millennials are frequently criticized for many faults; however, I also recall being a teen and having adults criticize me and my friends for not doing things the way they did as children. It’s nearly engrained in the human species to do so and complaining or forcing our own will on them won’t make any change except perhaps for the worse.

Last week’s article highlighted a view that if I believed in something passionately, it doesn’t require everyone else to believe the same in order to be “right.” Today’s young adults are not shy about dealing with issues differently from my peers. At times, I wish they were more open to heeding my experience and learning from those mistakes. Albeit, there’s no doubt in my mind those adults who critiqued me had a similar thought.

There is one fact which cannot be denied nor overlooked about the younger generations and that is they ARE the future. If there is anything grim about it then it ought to be our responsibility to help build it and not complain or in some cases, even sabotage it.

Rather than only looking for reasons to gripe about their actions and behaviors, focus also on seeing positive ones in today’s young adults as well. Recognize constructive behaviors and freely compliment them. This nurtures and inspires productive conduct and is the best way to leave a greater footprint on the future of this planet.

Granted, certain behaviors should never be ignored but that’s true regardless of your peer group. There is no reason why all of us – both young and old – can’t work together to mold the brightest future ever. My generation can offer words of wisdom while at the same time, learn from the energy and enthusiasm of younger ones. The worst thing we can do is force them into doing things the way we did. Otherwise, they’ll be prone to make our very same mistakes.

This week, see how much kindness you can compliment and inspire; especially from those younger than yourself. Thanks as always and I look forward to your comments.

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