Fit for Life: Time for Some Old-School Values…

Sunday, June 25, 2017


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I hate to stereotype any group of individuals but there is a generation out there that’s missing some major components of life, and I feel like it is going to lead to the degeneration of a generation. I am talking about the millennium generation. The group between the ages of 20 and 30. 

Of course, I don’t like to group everyone as a whole, because certain things don’t apply to everyone in this category, but it applies to many, and I am not just forming an opinion, because there are many people out there that will back me up on this one (especially business owners looking for help). I am always talking to other business owners about hiring procedures, and that conversation always goes down the same path: people show up late for interviews, or don’t show up at all. They start the training process then miss a day with no notice, or if they do get hired, they want to make big money, but don’t want to put in the work. I actually had a former employee tell me that he would work harder if I paid him more! I always thought things worked the other way around and you had to prove your worth to get raises, but I have an old-school mentality, like my father and grandfather. So, maybe I’m wrong, but I was taught that you don’t get anything for nothing, and you need to work hard to succeed. But not so much today, it seems.

We are entering the entitlement era, where folks expect a free ride, or expect big compensation for minimal, or sub-par performance. During the WWII era, men were tough. Guys in that generation were happy to eat, and appreciated being alive. During the Vietnam era people appreciated their freedom and were grateful for it. This generation is grateful for nothing, and appreciates nothing. Or so it seems to me on this day.

How did this happen? 

When did “good enough” become the work ethic standard? Why do we get so impressed when someone performs their job at a higher level? Hell, I get impressed when a grocery clerk smiles, and packs my bag efficiently, and doesn’t crush my eggs. Should we just lower our expectations? I heard the military and law enforcement are even lowering the standard testing so more people can pass the physical component. 

How did we get so soft?

Who or what is to blame? I feel like it’s partly the fault of parents, and partly society’s fault, for enabling this generation to be this way. It seems to me that there are no consequences for bad behavior, and we give out praise too easily. Is this helping the cause? I am a firm believer in discipline and tough love, but many don’t see things that way today. I feel like you appreciate things more when you make sacrifices, and work hard for things, rather than having things handed to you. Sure, everyone likes a gift occasionally, but I feel like it reinforces your core values, and creates discipline, character, and appreciation at a deeper level when you work hard for what you have. I know lots of different types of people that have achieved success and wealth. Some were born into it, and others worked hard and had to grind it out to become successful, and there are many distinct differences in their character and how they carry themselves. I don’t care to give details, or elaborate, but they act, carry themselves, and treat other people differently. 

What’s the solution?

Here’s some thoughts while I’m on this bent, today. First - every teenager should have a job – something to do and something they are responsible for completing - by the time they reach 13. Not some easy lifeguard job at the kiddie pool either. A job that requires some sweat equity and responsibility - like landscaping, cleaning cars or doing some construction manual labor. As they get to be 15 and 16, they can experience what it’s like for other people to be depending on them to show up and be part of the team, thus creating some accountability. 

Everything requires hard work, from fitness to business. When you work hard for something, it makes the reward sweeter, and appreciation higher. You become more grateful for what you have. I also think it would do us all some good if entering the military for a couple of years became mandatory. Yes, I do. I’ve seen boys become men and girls become women after a stint working for Uncle Sam. Not only will a person be put through the rigors of a physical challenge, the service will make people mentally tough. Being away from home, surrounded by a group of others grinding it out will help build character, and self-discipline as well as instill self-sufficiency. Build them up! 

I’ve learned that you can’t find good help, you need to create it. When you help build someone’s confidence, they are more likely to accelerate faster at what they are doing, rather than knocking someone down, and nagging their short comings. Positive reinforcement, and constant affirmation will create a happier employee, and give them incentive to work harder.

Back to my first statement that this doesn’t describe EVERYONE in this category. I have a 21-year-old employee who hasn’t missed a day, or ever been late, and she doesn’t even have her own vehicle. No excuses; she gets here and does her job. Not only is she loyal and dependable to me, she has two other jobs, AND she is starting her own business. That’s a rarity, in this day and age.

In conclusion, we need to look at the situation that is in front of us at this moment in time. People are getting softer, and performance is diminishing. The work force is getting lazier, and more demanding at the same time. The values of yesteryear, and the pride in workmanship has hit an all-time low. We need to step it up and instill some old-school values in our youth of today, whether we’re parents or employers - or we will be soon labeled the laziest nation on earth.


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Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one


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