Would you prefer 50 cents or 500 bucks?

Just the other day I was talking to a young man who is on the edge of leaving school early. I don’t mean going home before lunch, I mean that his school is suggesting to him that he needs to change or he needs to change. [No that wasn’t a typographical error]. Let me explain.

Either he needs to change his attitude and his current level of effort or he needs to change his school. He wouldn’t be expelled, as such, but he would be encouraged to go and find a place that meets his requirements. The difficulty is that they will only meet his immediate requirements not his medium and long term ones. Many young people, scratch the word young, many people don’t make decisions and think about their future at the same time. They are keen on instant fixes, immediate solutions and now answers. Life, unlike coffee, doesn’t come with an instant option.

During the conversation I had one of those moments of creativity and explained that school [actually school, parents, life itself] was offering him a significant opportunity and he was turning it down. I realise that this is totally his right but he didn’t understand it was totally c500 Dollarsrazy. It was like I was offering him 50 cents in one hand and 500 bucks in the other. He was asked to choose – not in the party game way of me holding my hands behind my back – but open palmed offer of 50 cents or 500 bucks. Of course he wanted the 500 bucks and he was horrified I explained that he was actually choosing the 50 cents. He was turning down the available offer of assistance to put his life on an upward track to success.

Of course that type of choice isn’t limited to young people – when was the last time you took an easy option and earned a short term gain without fully considering the longer term?

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