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The arrogance of youth: Why it isn't such a bad thing

There has been a few articles on BBC news recently that have caught my eye. The first one poses the question "Does confidence really breed success?", and the second one was in response to reader's feedback and was titled "Young people and self-esteem: Your views".

The former talks about how important high self esteem is in making a person successful. It is research based, and it is interesting, but ultimately comes to no profound conclusions. The latter article is slightly different. It immediately focuses on young people and their sense of entitlement. Some of the contributors suggest that graduates expect to be able to bypass he first rung of the ladder and shoot quickly to CEO. Generally 'young people' come off badly from these two articles.

The point in this post is because there were a few things i could relate to. I have always been someone who has aimed higher than the first rung of the ladder. I've never thought myself capable of running entire companies, but my aspirations tend to be that of 'middle management' or something equivalent. That probably sounds a bit odd, but i think ive found out that my skills are operational and not strategic.

Despite that fairly limited goal in life i very occasionally apply for a really really ridiculous position that is usually both out of the reach of my competance and experience, by miles.

A good example is when, at age 18, i decided i was going to be a lifeguard trainer. I had been a lifeguard for 2 years and had no training experience. I paid for the course myself, and just about passed it. The trainer of that course was clearly in two minds about passing me, but decided to give me the chance. 10 years later and i've overcome my lack of experience and am now a moderately experienced lifeguard trainer.

So what was happening here? Did i feel like i was entitled to this promotion? Did i feel like it was owed me? It became clear to me, as it so often has, that i've attempted to do something that was out of my depth, but through hard work managed to prove i was worth the investment.

My point here is that we should be encouraging young people to punch above their weight. Having an ego, and high self esteem, are qualities that will fuel someone to achieve the standards that other people set them. Their managers will sometimes wonder if they are worth the effort, or if investing in them was worth the time and money. But those young people that are irritatingly enthusiastic, to a level that is sometimes above their competence, should be nurtured not ignored.

Another important point is that those kids that appear to be oozing self esteem are probably as vulnerable as the rest of us...they have just been forced to cover it up with confidence. Trust me i know! So lets cut the new kids on the block a bit of slack shall we?