How will YOUR kid get a job?

  Great op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times, Tom Friedman, but there’s a more important question that needs to be asked first.

BEFORE we ask our children/students/clients “which colleges are you applying to?”, BEFORE we ask “how’s my kid gonna get a job?”, we need to ask them this: “What makes your heart sing?”

The college and job searches are secondary.  Exploring, investigating and discovering what they love to do should come first, but too often high schoolers feel rushed to come up with a list of prestigious institutions to which they’ll apply.

If we buy into the idea that the ideal hire –as Laszlo Bock suggests- is someone who can apply his knowledge in innovative ways while utilizing well developed soft skills, then we first need to give our children the time and space to determine what they know (or want to know).

How do we do that? By asking questions of our children.

Try these, and don’t accept “I don’t know” as an answer.  Probe gently and keep attempting the question when an opportunity arises.

What do you love to do?

How would you spend your time if you could choose what to do all day long?

In what activity do you find you get so absorbed that you lose track of time?

What is it that sends you into the “zone”?

Then, when they’re operating from a place of genuine interest and engagement --one in which they don’t mind if they make mistakes because they’re so intent on knowing—we try to guide them in developing their emotional intelligence. (And that’s a topic for another post.)