Hunger and Desire in the 21st Century Youth

“Kids today, huh, never had it so good”

Whilst I realise I am / have turned / turning into my parents with this post I still felt compelled to write it regardless. It came initially from the emphasis that is needed in my rugby club (Hull KR) on academy / youth development and the success we have had in that space this season. The under 19’s made the play-off for the first time and the under 16’s only lost one game all season. Great stuff. Inevitably that has also created some opportunity for some to then make professional debuts and that is a great thing for everyone to see.

All that said, I still fear for both young sports people and young people in the day job, when it comes to (what we old timers call graft) effort and desire. At a macro level they key difference between perhaps myself and say a version of me starting out in 2014, is I think hunger. I came from a very modest working class background and no, this is not a socialist manifesto nor boy done well story. Perhaps some of my progress came purely from the need to have to improve and subconsciously  setting myself goals to achieve that. Equally there are plenty of good stories of people from more affluent backgrounds but I maintain that hunger and desire are fundamental to many a success. So the Rob of 2014 would possibly come from a better starting position and as a result may not have been as driven as the original version.

I see some of that in the young guys starting with us at work and also in sport. It’s obviously the job of the manager/coach to select good people where that desire is evident but to achieve the big goals, surely hard work (first and foremost) and desire are critical? So sport and business face a challenge in the 21st century and of course I am being hugely general here but how do we create hungry, goal focused individuals when so much of our society is focused on average being ok. Let me also add that I have the same challenge with my own children, I believe I have given them a reasonable upbringing and that is inevitably better than mine was at some of the levels but certainly not all.

It’s critical that the desire to meet and then go onto new goals are understood by “the kids”. My open message to all “potentials” is that with early initial success comes a new challenge. To work harder and develop more, keeping your head down and attempting to not succumb to the multitude of easy options that came your way. I have seen so many (especially in sport) achieve a level and then be satisfied with that and the principles that got them there, fall away. Personally, I have also worked based on goals and there is a myriad of subject matter on that but it’s kept me moving forward and engaged.  So whether you’re a year 2 apprentice on the first rung of the career ladder or a 16 year old rugby player getting his first contract, the message is the same. This is the start, you have to continue to work hard, have a great attitude to that principle and want to improve. Settling for a level knowing that you haven’t given it everything seems like a cop-out to me. You don’t want if, buts and maybes to haunt you down the line.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh but increasingly we will have to create new techniques to manage this as for us (and very fortunately) in the UK we are blessed with a decent start in life. Perhaps only a first world problem then but to remain competitive we surely must watch out for complacency.



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