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Book Excerpt

Breach – How the next generation are consciously disrupting the world by Ronen Aires

Breach – How the next generation are consciously disrupting the world by Ronen Aires
'Breach' by Ronen Aires book cover. Image: Supplied

Generation Z are standing up for their futures. In ‘Breach’, performance coach Ronen Aires explains how leaders should embrace and listen to the youth’s aspirations so their organisations thrive.

For organisations to stay relevant in a fast-paced, ever-changing world, leaders need to harness the power of Generation Z. Performance coach Ronen Aires believes this is the key to success and the future. Read an excerpt from Breach here. 

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On Youth as Disruptors

Picture a volcano. It never erupts without warning. If it seems that way, it’s because we have missed the subtle signs, the small tremors beneath the earth’s surface. We haven’t detected the rising temperature and the increasing pressure. When the boiling, churning lava becomes too much to contain, it breaches the volcano and gushes forth, destroying everything in its path.

The youth are breaching the establishment. They are pushing against antiquated and nonsensical social norms and expectations. The internet acts as a powerful tool, providing a platform for youth to gather, share their values and gain accumulative force in their resistance. The push grows stronger and the lava is beginning to flow.

Many of the elders—fearful of change they do not understand—are pushing back, fighting to retain the establishment they have created. This may not be the best defensive tactic for, as blogger Alexander Beiner warns, “The more we repress ideas, the more they will breach.”

The greater the resistance, the stronger the build up of pressure, and the more dramatic the explosion.

Youth are organizing and demanding change—in their home lives, in their work lives and as global citizens of this world. They are done waiting on the world to change. They are gathering in like-minded tribes and going to war for what they believe in. They are ready to breach. It has already begun.

What if, instead of resisting what we may not understand, we open the door and usher in change?

What if we use our roles as elders to empower the youth to make this world a better place?

On Gen Z

Youth is a necessary tool for evolution. They might come with a few bugs that need to be worked out, but they also come with an upgrade on previous factory settings. We need to constantly reinvent ourselves if we wish to stay relevant and to survive. As we age, this reinvention becomes more and more difficult as we get stuck in our ideas and our ways. Youth seem to adapt with greater ease and enthusiasm. They look at any given situation or expectation and do not feel the immediate need to conform. Instead, they question.

What doesn’t make sense?

Why does it have to be done this way?

How do we do it better?

They ask without hesitation, reservation or judgment. It’s inspiring. Sometimes as we get older, we hold hard and fast to our familiar ways of thinking and behaving. We cling to our values and ideologies as if there are no other options. When someone dares to suggest an alternative perspective, we become offended—as if our life’s work was irrelevant. Youth don’t mean to offend, they mean to explore, to improve and to expand.

Generation Z (born between 1996-2010) has inherited a messed up world. They have been handed a reality which is laden with political corruption and scandal, with racial resentment, with privileged mentality, with environmental crisis and with economic uncertainty. They are not blind to it. They see the injustice and are fighting to make change. Their natural ability to connect, to collaborate and to use technology to their advantage will serve them well in forming a large and powerful tribe on a global scale.

On Reinventing His Own Leadership Style

I was so tired. I could no longer find the magic within myself—much less bring it out in others. 

Between an overwhelmingly full inbox and constantly being inundated with requests from employees asking for my approval on just about everything, I found myself thinking, “I don’t fucking care.”

I had dedicated my whole adult life to the creation of Student Village and I found myself wondering if I had the will, or the energy, to change. I needed to adjust my leadership style. I had to shift the environment within the company. Pretty much everything needed a makeover. Student Village no longer represented my passion for being a Village Elder. It had become the bane of my existence. I had become a prisoner of my own creation.

As things got worse, I knew I needed to look at other options. I can generally endure painful situations for a long time and giving up was never an option. Even though I was completely depleted, I knew I had to push forward and that the journey would be excruciatingly tough.

The thing is, I aspire to be an effective facilitator. I’m a natural guide in the right environment. When things are going well at Student Village, I feel confident stepping back and letting my colleagues make choices, innovate and be creative. It’s easy to facilitate in those moments. However, when in defense mode, my old wiring kicks in and then fear and control dominate.

When I am not in a good headspace, I fall back onto dictatorship. It’s like a switch—facilitator gone, commander and chief here to stay. My inner voice starts yelling, “No one else can do it like I can. I have the skill. I have the experience. I have the vision. No one will ever execute up to my standards.” 

Then I take the reins and gain total control of the situation. I lose trust. I lose perspective. My inbox and my brain become overwhelmed and cluttered. Everything is a mess. I become more controlling and so my team becomes increasingly disempowered. I’m not sure what came first, but it has created a nasty circle—and I am at the center of it.

Something needed to change. I needed to shake up the status quo so that I was no longer the commander but the facilitating Elder. My team and I needed to reorganize our corporate structure so that it was not just me at the top. Logically, I knew this. I even knew how to do it. So, why hadn’t I done it?

Because I was scared. DM/ML


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