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The pressure is on.  Everyday, I hear moms and dads talking about their kids and the stressors that they’re continuously facing in today’s competitive world. They need to excel in school, on the athletic field, and in every arena possible to be able to someday compete in the workplace. There’s no room for B’s on a report card—there’s no room for 2nd place. There’s no room for anything but spectacular, or else they won’t get into the college that they want.


While parents are focused on supporting their kids to accomplish these goals, it’s very possible that they’re missing the point.  There are some pretty important skills that young men and women need to be happy, healthy and successful in life that don’t get much attention.  But let’s be realistic for a moment— eventually you will graduate from college and need to live a life.  You need the skills that will help you navigate the world effectively.  This is where I feel a lot of today’s parents could use a refresher course.


So, whether you want to hear it or not, here are a few skills that I find valuable beyond a college degree from the right school.


Knowing how to write a good thank-you card.

My son relayed to me that he had received a Starbucks gift card from his aunt while at school.  He told his roommates how he needed to write a thank-you note for his gift and they were confused.  Not one of the five had ever written a thank-you for receiving a gift from someone. He found this shocking. I found it shocking that all my yelling over the years had really sunk in.  Knowing how to be gracious, considerate and have a grasp on proper etiquette in your professional and personal life is a skill that makes you stand out.


Being able to say you’re sorry when you’re not really responsible.

I still remember when my son came home, upset from his summer job. His boss had yelled at him, right in front of customers. He tried to calmly explain to him the real situation and how he wasn’t responsible, but the boss wouldn’t listen.  It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t his fault. I agreed with him it wasn’t fair, but this was real life.  Sometimes, in a job and in life, you’re not responsible but you have to take responsibility anyway. You have to say you’re sorry, when in fact, you don’t feel that you’ve done anything wrong.  It’s called “doing what you have to do to keep a job”.  Frankly, it’s also an important skill for your personal relationships.


Being willing to make mistakes and survive the experience.

It’s not easy to watch someone you love make mistakes. However, think back to your own life. When did you learn the most? It’s probably when you messed up in some way.  It’s when you got into trouble, made a poor decision and disappointed your parents and self.  Your life was severely impacted.  You felt pain for the mistake yet you experienced how you could rise above it and life could still be OK. Young men and women need this experience to learn, to become better people and to know how to survive bad experiences. Don’t take this away from them by trying to make it all “right”.


Being able to advocate for “you” in an appropriate manner

I’m referring to the ability to defend, advocate and speak up for yourself in your personal and professional life.  This skill is imperative to your future success and happiness. There will be numerous times in your career where you need to be able to sell and market your abilities. There will be numerous times in your career where you’ll need to defend your actions and speak your mind.  Your ability to handle these situations diplomatically, yet firmly, will impact your future positively.


These foundational skills just might make the difference in a highly competitive marketplace.

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