Drivers and Passengers–Tim Elmore, Growing Leaders

I’ve been musing over a critical issue in our culture today. Adults are passing on a damaging trait to our children. The problem and solution can be summarized in a “Habitude.”®  The curriculum, Habitudes—Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes represents a fresh way to teach timeless life skills to kids in our culture today. One of my favorite “Habitudes”®  is called “Drivers and Passengers.”

Consider this. People get into a car with different perspectives, based on whether they are driving the car, or merely a passenger on the trip. If you are the driver, you get into the car with a much greater sense of responsibility. After all, you’re the one making sure everyone gets to the destination.  And you develop the skills to do so.  If you’re the passenger, your goal is to make the ride fun, so you don’t get bored.  If you don’t get to the desired location, you can always blame the driver.

Over the last forty-five years, this victim “blame game” has become rampant in our culture. People file lawsuits at the drop of a hat (or a hot coffee at McDonalds), our parents blame teachers when our kid’s grades are high enough; and we condition our children to live this way as they grow into adults. We are becoming a nation of passengers. Not long ago, a college graduate filed a lawsuit against her college. She wants the money back that she paid for tuition. Why? The grad said she hasn’t found gainful employment since earning her bachelor’s degree just a few months ago.  She says, “They have not tried hard enough to help me.”

A friend of mine read a magazine awhile back that had two articles cheering on toddlers for going to day care from dawn to dusk.  It would make them independent and strong.  Children needed to learn, and early, that mommy wouldn’t always be there for them and they would have to stand on their own two little feet.  But my friend then pointed out  two other articles in the same magazine complaining that government or employers were not providing enough free day care.  Apparently, the virtues of independence are great for toddlers, but don’t extend to adults.

After reading a bit about the college being sued, this seems like a classic case of “drivers and passengers.”  The plaintiff would like to blame someone for her unemployment. To be honest, I am sorry for her.  But guess what, young lady?  You are not alone. Nearly 10% of America is without jobs. And the more you try to blame someone else for your state, the less responsibility you’ll take for your own life. This case is just one notch above the woman who called 911 last spring because McDonald’s was out of chicken nuggets.  The poor woman needed her nuggets and felt the police should help.

Please understand– I am not a man without mercy.  The disgruntled student has school loans to pay, just like I have a stack of bills to pay. But check out the rest of the story.  Her college offers lifetime free services for graduates. It is excellent service, too, according to previous graduates. The problem is not the school; it is a sagging economy and a blaming student. The harried mom with a career needs help.  But as I reflect on my past, I have learned that the more I search for others to blame for my poor destination so far… the more I lose any sense of control over where my life is going.

It’s time to take the wheel, and with God’s help, cause our kids to assume responsibility for where they’re going. When they do, they’ll find this attitude is very attractive to those around them.

It’s your destination. It’s your life.

–Tim Elmore