When the Next Generation Takes Over

We continue to see young stars in the making in all professions. We really will be in good hands; history tells us so. We just need to have faith.

The youth is the hope of our future. — Jose Rizal

I often worry about the youth of today—their ability to handle the fast-paced changes the world brings and how this ability or lack thereof will impact my future and that of our country when this next generation is at the helm. Do they have what it takes to get the job done? That question can cover a broad spectrum, from taking care of themselves to taking care of our government.

I’ve seen a number of videos in recent years showing interviews of college kids being asked (and being unable to answer) simple but important questions such as “who won the Civil War?” and “who is vice president of the United States?” I realize that these videos could have been faked or could have required hundreds or even thousands of interviews before editing down to only the uninformed individuals who we get to see. But this food for thought naturally makes people wonder about the intellect of our future leaders.

When these concerns arise, I think it’s important to step back and consider how generations ahead of us felt. We surely aren’t the first to feel somehow superior to those who follow in our footsteps. Yes, with age comes experience and wisdom. But with youth comes curiosity, excitement and an interest in discovering better ways. Those characteristics drive development.

Most adults, at some point, have found themselves in a mentoring type of role, whether as a manager or co-worker, coach, teacher or some other leader, helping to guide someone who is younger and less experienced. From a parent’s perspective, this role becomes a lifestyle. We are teaching our kids from the beginning of their lives. We get excited with their achievements and are often disappointed when they fail. As they reach adulthood, we begin to turn them loose, hoping we’ve taught them enough to thrive and steered them in a good direction to make it happen.

At the end of this month, my son, Joe, will graduate from the University of Cincinnati. It’s time for him to start his career and begin doing his part in proving that concerns about the competence of his generation are overblown, just as they were for the generations before. I’m proud of what he has done so far, but while I’m confident that he has the skills to be successful, I’m still nervous about his future. He’ll go off to work for someone and find his way, though, and he will most likely flourish in his job and develop into a leader, mentor or teacher in his own right.

I can’t help thinking of the many companies in our industry whose leadership has been handed down from one generation of a single family to the next. So many manufacturing companies were created by an individual in his garage and have slowly grown to include sons and daughters who eventually took over the business, only to hire their own children and grandchildren. I wonder how much these self-starters worry about the next generation when they know it’ll be their own family members who will be responsible for the continued success of what they’ve worked so hard, and invested so much in creating.

Our Cutting Tools feature this month (see page 32) was written by the current president of an organization like this. A fourth-generation employee at his company, John Detterbeck includes in the article an anecdote about a time he used his creativity in a successful skiving operation that his grandfather said would not work. This event marked a milestone of sorts in the transition of responsibility within the company. John was able to show that he, indeed, was up to the challenge, and, in this case at least, was able to prove his grandfather wrong.

Just as John’s son, Kyle, is also now demonstrating his own value within the organization, and my son continues to impress me as he matures, we continue to see other young stars in the making in all professions. We really will be in good hands; history tells us so. We just need to have faith.

Editor Pick

Artistry with Skive Tools

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “All limitations are self-imposed.” This statement often holds true as machinists apply their creativity in skiving applications.