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Maruja Moragas, Nuria Chinchilla, IESE Professors

Who pays the price?

Wed, 17 Aug 2011 08:26:43 +0000 Published in La Vanguardia

The business cannot be asked to pay for the omissions of parents, schools and universities.

A restaurant owner was exasperated: "I'm looking for waiters and no meeting. This week I interviewed fifteen of them and they all told me that they don't want to earn fourteen hundred euros, that they earn twelve hundred euros on the dole and that they are not compensated. It is not true that there is no work! What will happen when their dole runs out? Will they look for culprits and complain? How can this be corrected?".

The root cause of this status was witnessed in a bakery.

A father was waiting his turn with his young son, sitting in his stroller. Suddenly, the child sees a jar full of candy and starts screaming. People get nervous, because the screaming gets louder and louder. The father asks for a piece of candy and gives it to him: "Poor thing! Here." This child is a firm candidate to have a low level of frustration tolerance and resilience (ability to go through difficulties without them sinking him, coming out stronger). If no one sets limits or tells him no, he will end up projecting his problems outside of himself, he will always complain and put his hand up, but that will not improve his frustration.

For years we have focused on the development of technical competencies and we have thought that human competencies are taken for granted, as something that comes as a given without encouraging them Education. Cultural factors such as individualism or the confusion between authority and authoritarianism have contributed to this, shaping a permissive society. The correction of the excesses committed by young and old requires a return to the opposite pole: to es-fort, that is, to revitalize fortitude.

Effort goes beyond exercising the will and doing something because we have to: we need it to be happy and have a higher level of well-being. Strength is made up of competencies such as self-control and discipline. To be able to act with energy and be really effective in our actions, we must know how to restrain ourselves when it is not our turn (not to take the candy) and do what it is our turn (ordering toys or studying), regulating emotions and impulses that would lead us to do the opposite of what we feel like doing. Without these skills, we do not have the necessary resources to defend ourselves, nor will we know how to take advantage of the opportunities for improvement that life itself and conflicts entail. Neither are we worthy of credit nor do we have the capacity to create stable relationships with other people.

Children and young people need references to copy and someone to guide them in knowing themselves and in discovering what they can do, how to do it and why. Not acting in this sense postpones and increases problems in the future. They will also appear and will be more difficult to solve, because these capricious and unsupportive children will be adults who will act in all social spheres.

A functioning society and business require people with technical and human skills. It is up to business to develop the skills of its workers, but it cannot be asked to pay for the omissions of parents, schools and universities.

We can spend fortunes on improving systems, but if parents and teachers do not know what the effort is for and do not practice it, we will not be able to improve our environment. In the end, we all pay the price.