Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Wussification of America – How Schools are Preparing Americans for Failure

The new generation of employees were raised in an environment of trophies for everyone. The school system believes that if one student receives a trophy while the others do not, it will create low self esteem in the ones who did not.

To solve this problem, everyone gets a trophy or no one does.

While that may seem feasible to some, the outcome is a generation of people who expect to receive a prize for everything they do.

That’s a problem that has followed them into the corporate world. Managers today find that they are expected to reward their younger workers for everything they do.

If the manager does not compliment and reward their employee often, the employee feels slighted and some will even tender their resignation.  Others just quit and move back home.

This was brought home to me recently during a management class when I asked the attendees how their organizations motivate their people. One student shared that they have discontinued their motivation program due to the following incident.

After setting the parameters for their staff one person did a particularly good job and so was rewarded for their efforts. Soon the other employees began visiting the manager’s office to complain that they did not receive a reward and thought it was unfair.

The whining was so bad the company decided to end the program. Now no one gets rewarded.

Why? I asked, and was told it is simpler to cancel the program than to continually explain the process and the situation.

You see, the employees are so used to everyone receiving a reward, that they simply cannot fathom what the organization is trying to do.  They do not see this as a motivation program.  They see it as an unfair program.

I was reminded of this exchange during the Christmas holidays when a school in Massachusetts instituted a policy that students who had attended an event to honor them and received shirts were NOT allowed to wear the shirts to school.

The reason? The principal thought it would make the other students feel left out and feel bad. The article said, “middle school enforced a new policy aimed at making sure no student feels left out.”

I have to tell you that it made my blood boil.  If this is the mindset of the school principal, they will most definitely turn out a graduation class of low achievers with the mindset of the people who work for the above mentioned company from my class.  They will graduate thinking that “Participation Trophies” are the norm and expect their employers to follow suit.

The Reality

In a global economy where Americans are competing for jobs, this just ensures that we are graduating a class of low achieves. It ensures that students all move to the lowest common denominator.

It ensures that students all move to the lowest common denominator.

It encourages the best students to hide their ability and just do the minimum. After all, you get a trophy anyway, so why bother?

It guarantees that the new generation of Americans will lose on the global markets.

With the state the worldwide economy, it ensures that our students will be unable to compete as companies search for the brightest and the best at a global level.

Nick D'Aloisio developed the app in his Wimbledon bedroom to help with his homework

Meanwhile on the other side of the pond, a 16 year old has written an app to help him with his home work.

The app caught the attention of a Chinese billionaire. “The private equity investment firm is controlled by Li Ka-Shing, the Chinese billionaire who ranks as the eleventh wealthiest person in the world according to the Forbes rich list. His previous investments include Skype, Facebook and Spotify.”


His firm sank $250,000 (£159,000) into the project. 

It is currently available as an iPhone app. In an information overloaded society, this app is exactly what we need. It summarizes the huge volume of data returned by search engines like Google to help us quickly determine if we have found what we are looking for.

This my friends is the competition that our children are up against as they learn how to save their feelings from being hurt. I believe that their future is being hurt!

Wussification is Hurting American youth

What can we do about it? Well for one thing don’t rely on the school or teachers to educate your children. Pick up the slack and teach them at home. Institute your own reward system for their achievements.

Secondly, if you have employees who balk at the rewards that a productive and effective employee receives, explain to them what they can do to also win the reward next time. Mentor, coach and encourage them. Then follow through with the rewards WHEN THEY EARN IT!

Your comments are welcome.

Known as a highly effective teacher, public speaker, and communicator, Yvonne F. Brown has taught seminars on team building, leadership, communication, & management in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Yvonne is proficient in a variety of management topics, including interpersonal, organizational, and intercultural communications, conflict management skills, and helps employees with their career growth.
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