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What Young People Want and Need


Tim Bryce

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"Most children are raised by amateurs, not professionals."
- Bryce's Law

I've been watching with great interest the ten part series on PBS entitled, "Carrier," which provides a rare glimpse into life aboard an American aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz. There are approximately 5,000 people aboard this floating four acres of military weaponry, and although the ship and technology are interesting, it is the ship's crew who are the real stars of the show.

Crewmen, both male and female, from all levels of the ship's military hierarchy were profiled. Many were interviewed as to what their background was and why they joined the Navy. To me personally, I found the interviews with the younger members of the crew (ages 18-22) to be particularly enlightening. Many came from middle class broken homes where the other members of the family were socially dysfunctional, suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction, and consequently becoming pimps, prostitutes, thieves, and wife/child beaters. Time and again, crewmen spoke of how the Navy gave them structure and purpose in life. They found such things as discipline, organization, and accountability, to be some very powerful and beneficial concepts. They also thrived in an environment of teamwork where it was necessary to put aside differences and work towards the common good. As a result, they felt less like aloof individuals and more like a real family with a sense of belonging. They would frequently use the expression, "Work hard - play hard," representing their philosophy to teamwork. With this foundation in place, the crewmen found confidence in themselves, assumed responsibility for their actions, and confidently responded to challenges. Instead of drifting through life aimlessly, the Navy gave them the ability to chart a course in their personal lives, something their parents failed to instill in them. In other words, the military forced them to grow up by teaching them the meaning of adulthood.

Some time ago I discussed the need in business for "Parenting Management," that due to a decline in parenting skills at home, teachers, coaches, and managers were being forced to play surrogate mothers and fathers. We may not like it, but unfortunately it has become a fact of life as many misfit parents have abdicated their responsibilities. Not surprising, I find "Carrier" as an endorsement of my thesis that we have to do much more in the business world to help young people grow up and take their proper place in society. Since their biological parents have dropped the ball, it now defaults to the manager.

In a nutshell, the lessons from "Carrier" are simple; with rare exception, young people both want and need direction, organization, discipline, and accountability. Although they would never admit such going into the Navy, these simple parental skills are what the young crewmen actually respond positively to.

In the final chapter of the show, the producers interviewed a young crewman who told a story of going back and visiting his recruiter following Boot Camp. "What did you get me into?" he asked the recruiter who, in turn, raised his hand and said "Where would you be right now if you weren't in the Navy?" The crewman blurted out he would be hanging out with his friends getting high ("Did I just say that?" he said). He glanced back into the eyes of the recruiter who simply said, "You see?" And, of course, the crewman did.

Maybe there is something to the concept of having all young people serve in the military for a few years following high school.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

Keep the faith.


About the Author

Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant with M. Bryce & Associates of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He is available for lecturing, training and consulting on an international basis. He can be reached at
Comments and questions are welcome.

His writings can be found at:

The "Management Visions" Internet audio broadcast is available at:

Copyright 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-05-16 21:03:51 in Employee Articles

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