Parents want the best for their kids. They give their kids advice to help them grow into healthy, happy, and successful adults. However, the best-intentioned career advice might be decreasing the creativity in your kids and that might be causing a number of other problems. In this episode Amy Climer talks about how you can make a living doing anything and why saying Yes to your kids’ career ideas might be the best way to help them live healthy, happy, and successful lives.
What You’ll Learn
- How your best intentions as parents might be decreasing your kids creativity
- How the career advice you give your kids might impact their creativity
The Weekly Challenge
When you hear a child talk about what they want to be when they grow up, say yes. Say yes even if you don’t know how they can do it. There are so many options today and by limiting the career options of kids we decrease their creativity and teach them that there are only certain professions that are worthwhile. Say Yes!
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Transcript for Episode #030: Career Advice to Increase Creativity
Amy Climer: Hi everyone. Welcome to The Deliberate Creative Podcast Episode 30. My name is Amy Climer and this episode is coming out on Christmas Eve so I want to say to all of you who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. I hope you are enjoying this last week of 2015. Very exciting, as we are almost in 2016.
Today I want to talk about advice that we give our kids. I’ve been wanting to do this episode for quite a while, but I’ve been a bit hesitant because I’m not a parent. You know sometimes when non‐parents give advice about parenting, it doesn’t go so well, so I get that. But I think what I have to say is valuable even though I am coming from a non‐parent perspective. I might be a parent someday hopefully I will, so we’ll see. This episode is about career advice and as parents usually you want your kids to grow up and be happy and healthy and have a wonderful life as adults. We tend to be concerned about kids choosing careers that are going to help fulfill their dreams and help them be happy and healthy and stable and all that good stuff. Unfortunately, I think what happens, at least in the US. I’d be curious to hear from listeners in other countries. Is this the same in your culture? But at least in the US, it seems that we try to steer our kids in certain directions and usually it’s one of only a few professions. That top two have got to be doctors and lawyers. We often steer kids towards those professions because we think of them as very productive, very successful, very well respected, well paying positions. This has been true for the last fifty to a hundred years. I don’t know long. But definitely for our lifetime this has been true. So for those of you who are Gen X’ers like me, I’m 40, for those of you around my age maybe a little bit younger who are parents, for our entire life it has been true that doctors and lawyers have been respectable, well paying positions. But who knows if that’s going to be true in the future. I am not suggesting that it is not. I just don’t know. But I think that it is just interesting that we tend to push kids into 1 www.climerconsulting.com certain fields regardless of what aptitude they maybe showing. I think this can be really detrimental to their health.
I’ve seen these in so many different ways. The first I’ll talk about is just watching parents either give kids advice or listen to them talk about the advice they give to their own kids. Sometimes it looks like this, where the kids are doing something, maybe somewhere between maybe from six to 12 years old, they might make a comment like, “I really want to be a writer when I grow up, I want to be a dancer or musician or an artist” or and it is based on whatever activity they’ve been doing. As a parent on the side, watching a kid, a parent would often say “oh yeah that’s great. Just know that it is really hard to make a living as an artist”, or “not very many people can be successful as a musician”. Or something like that. I often have seen this and I sit there kind of cringing because first of all how many times are you going to change your idea of what you want to be when you grow up? From the age of six, eight, ten most people change their mind a lot. They are just experimenting. They’re just putting this out there and trying this on. “what if I pretend that I want to be an artist when I grow up what would that be like” and what they find out very quickly is what it’s going to be like is, you’re going to get a lot of scrutiny from your parents. Usually from the parents this is coming from a place of caring, and concern, and love because they have this image in their heard of the starving artist who is struggling to make ends meet, who might be on drugs, who is barely able to afford rent for their apartment. That’s not the life you want for our kids. We want something more and so we try to push away from that.
The other way I’ve seen this play out is with college students. big part of my career has been working with college students. One of the ways I’ve done that is I worked for an organization called LeaderShape. LeaderShape is a super awesome organization that we go into colleges and we do these week long intensive programs. I think of them as leadership camp. They are really intense. We work from 8am until 10 pm everyday for six days. The focus is on helping college students understand how to lead with integrity. It is helping them think about “How do I make the best decisions for myself and for the people around me? How do I help create an amazing world?” Throughout the week we guide students to create a vision that they have of the world and to think about how they might help implement that vision. This vision isn’t 2 www.climerconsulting.com around what they want to do when they grow up. This vision is about how do you want to impact the world? What happens is that for some students they get to this place where the way they want to impact the world, is completely different from the major or profession that they think they are going into. For some students that’s ok, but for some students they realize that on this path they are getting a degree on engineering, chemistry, or business and they don’t want to do that. That actually was their parent’s dream, but really what they wanted to do is be a music major and be a musician. Now they’re struggling and they’re really torn with “what do I do with this?” Some students are able to make that switch and say “You know what, I actually want to switch and want to be a music major and I really want to move forward with this passion and this dream that I have and I want to see if I can make it work”. Other students don’t do that. They’re not able to make that switch. Usually it’s because what I’ve seen in a way is the pressure from their parents. Their parents won’t let them move away from one of a few careers: doctor, lawyer, engineer, something along those lines. I am not a psychologist by any means, or a psychiatrist, or a doctor, but what I see often is that those kids who aren’t able to make that switch and they’re stuck doing something that they really don’t want to do, but it is their parents dream for them, is that it comes out in other ways like anxiety attacks, depression. They really struggle with having this happy, healthy life because they’re doing something that is not core to who they are. I’ve watched this as a LeaderShape facilitator and when I worked at universities. I used to worked in University of Wisconsin. I’ve seen this as so many students and it is so sad. It just breaks my heart. I think they could really be successful as a musician or as a dancer, if they were given the opportunity to pursue that. Again, I think of this advice from parents towards kids is almost always coming from a place of love and care and concern and how to help their kids be the best they can. But is also coming from a place of fear. A place of fear that “oh my gosh, if my kids becomes a musician, they might be on drugs, they might do bad things, they might not be able to pay their rent.”
What is so cool about the time we are living right now is that we are here in the period of history where the possibilities and the opportunities are gigantic. Thirty years ago when we were kids it really was very difficult to become an artist or musician for a living. But now, there’s all these resources that has been democratized because of technology. I can start a business with little to no overhead because of access to the internet it is so easy on how to make a website. I mean it took me less an hour to get this podcast up on iTunes. It is so easy 3 www.climerconsulting.com now to get things out to the world. So as a musician what used to cost me perhaps thousands of dollars to go rent a studio, and record a music, and do it an album, and get an agent, now it can be done for a few hundred dollars. It could be sent out to the world in such an easy way. So there are so many opportunities for us to make a living and be successful doing things that really fit with our passion. I think when we are pushed into professions that don’t fit with who we are, it really causes us to be less creative in all areas of our life because what we are taught is that there are only a few right answers. So the right answers to a career is doctor, lawyer, engineer, whereas we might initially think there many more right answers, but we’re taught that there aren’t. So we transfer that to other areas of our life as well oh there must be only certain right answers and in order to fit in I need to do one of these two or three choices. Now let me also add, there is nothing wrong with being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Those are awesome professions. I know many people in each of those who love what they do and they are so passionate and are really good at it. So that’s not what I am trying to say, but what I am trying to say is that whatever profession that your kids goes into, it really needs to fit who they are. It needs to be something that they are excited about and that they want to do and that they choose on their own. I also will say am not of a belief that we all have one thing that we are called to do or one thing that we are going to be successful with. I do think that most of us can be successful doing a number of different things, but then there are certain things that if we are forced to do it’s going to be a bit of a disaster. By the way, when I say successful I mean that in a very broad sense. I mean that in the sense of happy, healthy, living a creative life that is contributing to the world. That’s what I mean when I say successful. I think the other place that this is coming from for parents is when I mention this fear, right? I just want to go back to that. There is a piece of that is also this fear of “can my kid make enough money to survive doing whatever it is they want to do and not just to survive, but to thrive?” I strongly believe that we live in a time where you can make a living doing anything.
One of my favorite example is Pet Rocks. This was actually a few decades ago. There was this guy, I think he was American, and he was down in Mexico. He found these rocks on the beach and he started painting little faces on them and turned them into “pets”. Of course, it was just a joke. But the best part about this product is it came with this 32 page manual. The manual was hilarious. You can find it online. In fact I’ll link it in the shownotes. And it has all these funny things like how to teach your pet rock to roll over. You place your rock on the top of the 4 www.climerconsulting.com hill and just give it a little gentle nudge and pretty soon your rock is rolling over. Or you could teach your rock how to sit and your rock would sit quietly next to you until you tell it to otherwise. Hilarious booklet that was created that went along with the painted rock. This guy became a millionaire selling these Petrocks. Actually, in a quick amount of time. No, that’s a little bit more of a fad you know. These rocks were popular for a couple of years and in that time made a lot of money. He took that money and he actually started a restaurant that he was really passionate about. Who would have thought when this kid was in high school that he was going to grow up and make a pet rock business? No one ever heard of pet rocks, it hadn’t even been thought of yet. So a lot of professions that exist now did not even exist when we were in high school. And kids who are in high school now, when they graduate college there will be new jobs that don’t even exist right now. So when we are advising kids on what career to go into we have to really be careful. Do not put them in a box and not have them think that these are the only professions where you are going to be successful and make a comfortable living. The opportunities are endless.
I just heard about somebody who started a business. The purpose of the business was to coordinate all the trucks at large construction projects. So for instance, like a new, a big shopping mall. Apparently in those malls there are different contractors that do the interior work for each of the different units. This guy started a company and all they did was coordinate the trucks as they came into the property and help them figure out where they are going send them off to the right place. A friend of mine told me about this and I’m like what? Who knew it even existed? There are so many possibilities. I really think we are entering into this entrepreneurial time where more and more people are starting businesses, doing things that, again, didn’t even exist when people in my age we’re in high school. Netflix is another great example. Yeah! We went down on a movie store and we would check movies out, or we would go to library. Now you make a decision of what you want to watch and then five minutes later you are watching it. Netflix came about because somebody had an idea and they started implementing it. I think the best advice we can give our kids is to say yes. When they say they want to be a dancer, or an artist, or a musician, or a animal trainer, or a greenhouse grower, always say yes! and “how can I help you do that? Do you want to take some summer classes to learn 5 www.climerconsulting.com more about being an artist?” “Do you want to sign up for a class at a science center? Do you want to volunteer at a veterinarian’s office?” Just say yes! Then help them figure out how to learn more about that profession. I think another piece there is also helping kids figure out how they can be creative. Teaching them the creative problem solving process. I learned about the creative problem solving process by attending the Creative Problem Solving Institute in Buffalo, New York. It happens every June. It’s an amazing week of excellent classes, just tremendous energy. I mean imagine there are hundreds of people that come together and they are all excited about creativity. It’s a pretty fun week and they have a whole youth track. Kids can show up and they can take a class all week long where the only purpose is to help them become more creative and understand the creative problem solving process. Thats pretty cool! I just feel like “oh my gosh! If more kids grew up into adults that understood these process we could solve so many worldwide problems or even just local small problems.” No big deal. We’re going to just address the problem. We will clarify what the situation is, we will ideate and welcome new ideas, we will develop those ideas, and then let’s try implementing a couple of them and see what happens. Pretty soon the problem is solved.
[17:51] Weekly Challenge
As you’re going into the holidays, for those who do celebrate Christmas, for many people this is the time to spend with family. I would encourage you, as you spend time with your family, whether you are a parent, or an aunt, or an uncle, a grandparent, or maybe you are a kid yourself, when you hear other people talk about what they want to do for a living ‐ Say yes. Say “Yes!! That’s so cool! Tell me more about that!” Be that encouragement. Help kids figure out how they can do what they want to do because I assure you if they have, if they can understand how to solve problems, if they understand integrity, if they understand tenacity, they can make a living, an awesome living, doing anything. That’s your challenge for the week. Hang out with a kid and say yes when they talk about their career. You all have a wonderful, wonderful holiday and I will see you next week. Bye!
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