The Other N-Word

Category: Weekly Columns

Pride in Chinese

No, this is not a column about race. The other N-word is nepotism. It often has a negative connotation but I actually have been re-thinking the word; how nepotism is practiced and felt today, and how I’m going to take this idea and expand it into helicopter parenting. A reach? But, of course!

Cartoon about pride

Today’s economy and job market is tougher than at any time in my life. I sincerely believe that my boys have a harder road ahead of them than I did. That is a new phenomenon for parents. Parents always expected their kids to do better than they did. Now, many parents simply hope their kids do as well. I will be thrilled if my boys have half the luck and success I was blessed to have, as well as the financial comforts that all provided.

So, how does this relate to nepotism? Simply, you gotta do what you gotta do. Hmm, wasn’t there a “Rug Rats” expression that went something like, “A baby’s got to do what a baby’s got to do!” Today, that may include all kinds of persistence, creativity, and yes using whatever connections you may have, including mom and dad or any relative.

Why the rub? If it’s good enough for William Shatner’s daughter (see recent “Priceline” commercials), why isn’t it good enough for your kids?

Luck and nepotism

Let’s take this into the realm of helicopter parents since we all love those overbearing dads and moms. No, I don’t think mom or dad should push their connections on their kids, but offering them up is not bad form. In fact, offering them up is simply helping your kids in a mighty tough environment. Pushing your ideas or friends on them is where it goes too far. It’s like the old saying that I’ve corrupted, “You can lead a horse to water, but he’ll drink it when he’s thirsty enough.”

So Dad and Mom — go ahead and offer up your connections to your kids. They’ll take advantage of them when they’re ready. Don’t think you’re enabling them in the bad sense of that word. Instead, recognize everyone can use a hand. What’s wrong if that hand comes from family? Absolutely nothing!

The extension of this idea is how to instill the two P’s into your children’s mindset. Passion and persistence are necessary skills that many in this entitled generation don’t get. The irony is that when they need it most – today – it’s being taken from them by the afore-mentioned helicopter parents that teach their kids dependence rather than independence, and the government which thrives on creating dependence – these days – more than ever before.

The whole notion of “taking a handout” used to be shameful. Now, it seems to be not only a rite of passage but something many view as “their due.” All it dues is teach “them” to be lazy and not DO for themselves!

Passion may be easy to learn if there is something you or your kids are passionate about. But, without persistence, passion is as useful as food stamps. It takes care of an immediate need but it won’t sustain itself and it will create laziness and lack of initiative.

Persistence is the ingredient to make the passion-stew simmer and marinate. To beat this analogy to death, it is what makes it all taste so sweet. You take your passion and mix it with persistence and you get an entire self-sustaining meal and you’ve made it yourself. Nothing tastes better. Nothing is sweeter than making something happen all by your lonesome!

The hardest part of persistence is to learn NOT to take rejection personally. To let it slide off your back and keep on going. Persistence is about the willingness to keep on going in spite of repeated apparent setbacks. The reason I choose the word “apparent” is the same reason I say not to take things personally. Too often we do both. A rejection, on the surface, may seem personal when more often than not; it has nothing to do with you or your passionate project/work.

A rejection can be caused due to factors in which you simply have no knowledge. Realizing that it is not all about you is the first step in pushing ahead. What happens if the first ten efforts you make result in “rejection?” Nothing, if the eleventh results in success!

My careers were built around this fact. Showbiz is all about constant and regular rejection. If I’d allowed rejection to define my showbiz career, I’d be serving burgers. The same is true for my work in my second career of writing and radio – two fields that were dying on the vine, yet I didn’t give up.

So, teach your children well to not take things personally, to find their passion, and to pursue it with passion. They might surprise you and become more successful than you ever dreamed!

  • David Weber

    I agree with your comments. i would add the following:

    – Helicopter parents–I see them frequently as a college professor. As we say in the south, “…bless their hearts.”

    – Having family connections is just one of those attributes that some people have and others don’t. For someone else, the attribute is a brilliant mind, or great looks, or something else. Ultimately, in most cases a person stands or falls on his or her own; the connections are a foot in the door and if your performance is deficient, the fact that you once had some connections that got you the opportunity that you blew is beside the point.

    – The concept of passion has been dulled. It is tossed around casually…I hear it in my students’ discourse all the time. Passion’s root word in Latin means suffering (hence, the passion of Christ, for example). I personally do not use the word any more because it has been denatured and blanched.

    I tell my students NOT to assure me that they are “passionate” about the field they are studying with me. Instead, PROVE it to me by your actions. Many of them are “passionate” about their stated career interest. (The three most popular ones for my students are public relations, event-planning and broadcast journalism.) When one of them tells me that, I ask, “How would I know that if you hadn’t told me?”

    I teach an intro class (about 200 students) required for all students who want to major in my field. If you don’t get a B in the class, you can’t major in my department. I ask on Day One of class, “How many of you would say you are ‘passionate’ about this field of study?” About three-quarters raise their hands. Then I ask, “OK, what are you willing to SACRIFICE in order to learn what you want to learn as a major in this field?” I invite them to discuss with their neighbors. The answers are along the lines of “I’m willing to spend a Saturday studying,” that sort of thing. Then I say, “Well, that’s not passion. Passion means to suffer, to do little else except what you say you want to do. If you are not living and breathing this field of study, you aren’t ‘passionate’ about it.” And so on.

    Some of the students CANNOT STAND ME for that kind of in-your-face bubble-bursting. Others consider it a welcome reality check and they get more serious about the major than they otherwise might have.

    • Bruce Sallan

      I absolutely LOVE your comment David – especially what you say about Passion – it is worthy of its own column!