Watching the news the other day I was struck by the number of places in the world where there was protest and subsequent unrest. Whether it was a long drawn out protest such as in Thailand, Ukraine or Egypt; whether it was through newspaper articles from the press; or whether it was through individual stands from groups such as Pussy Riots, the responses from governments had a common thread.
The more mild would continue on along their path regardless of the riot. Others would pretend to support democracy by calling for new elections that they knew they would win. The more extreme resorted to suppression by imprisonment, sacking of journalists or by threats.
What all of these situations have in common is that none of them take real notice of the protests. Governments make the mistake of believing that they are the senior members of the population and they always know best. Regardless of how much the world may change, they consistently resist change and regard any challenge to their authority as a conspiracy and a threat.
I often see a clear parallel when working with young people. All too often parents assume that age gives their ideas and plans for their offspring a natural status. They see no need to analyse the ever changing world and to adapt their thoughts to meet the new challenges.
Parents consistently attempt to force their children as far as possible down the conveyor belt to academic excellence despite the fact that, for many, academic excellence at any level will not provide the careers that parents hope for.
Their children live in a stimulating age where the world is changing faster every day, where parental views of the 20th century are not those of the young people of the innovation age.
Whether by diagnosing those young people that don't fit the conveyor belt image with ADHD and then drugging them with Ritalin or, as politicians, suppressing freedom of expression by drugging them with suppression, both sets of adults are in danger of alienation in some form or other.
I was recently asked my advice on how to make oneself a better manager. My advice then is the same as that I would give to both parents and politicians today. You were born with two eyes, two ears and one mouth. You really should use them in this proportion. Listen and watch your people, listen and watch your children. Strength comes from responding not suppressing.