Madonna King: Barack Obama’s advice for life? Learn how to get stuff done!

Barack Obama wants the world to learn one thing.

Barack Obama wants the world to learn one thing. Photo: Getty

Everyone has advice for our Generation Zs, those teens and 20-somethings who now account for about one in five Australians. 

Work harder. Consider the big picture. Put your phone away. Look outside yourself. Have more fun. Understand AI. Study hard.

The list runs to pages, but perhaps the advice that should shoot to the top was given recently by former US president Barack Obama, who is a father of two Gen Zers.

“Just learn how to get stuff done,” he said.

How positively refreshing, and perhaps advice for every one of us, starting with the nation’s leaders.

Just learn how to get stuff done.

In the past decade, as social media envelops our lives, the call is often for the world to change.

Big ideas. Momentous innovation. Weighty decisions that can change all of our trajectories.

Focus is on big, big, big

In public policy and fitness advice, scientific research and charity work, the focus has been on big, big, big.

And perhaps the consequence of that is that we talk, talk and talk – without the follow through.

The Voice to Parliament is a stellar example. A big idea, that we should all applaud. Its impetus delivered in the fire of an election victory speech. And now, we are struggling to get it across the line.

Just learn how to get stuff done.

We see similar examples every day – from promises to hold the Commonwealth Games to fat funding studies for new roads and bridges and infrastructure.

But how much actually happens?

The Voice to Parliament, supported by Albanese and opposed by Dutton, is in danger of failing.

A slice, at that. Funding shortfalls get in the way. Or political hurdles. Or a change of government. And then we embark on a whole lot of new ideas, almost always delivered with bling, that don’t always eventuate.

What if we changed our expectations? What if we were content with our local government authorities really focusing on rates, roads and rubbish. No potholes. Rubbish collected on time. Rate increases below inflation.

I’d be lining up to get that party back into power. The same goes with state and federal leaders, who routinely embark on promises that escalate into auctions as polling day nears.

Perhaps as parents, we could consider Obama’s words also. Do we really need remarkable eight-year-olds? Or 15-year-olds?

Or would it be better to aim for resilient and kind teens, who knew the difference between their online and real worlds. And let them be remarkable, later on in life.

Maybe Obama’s making that point in an interview for LinkedIn’s This is Working series.

Of course he had other suggestions, like the importance of worrying “more about what you want to do rather than what you want to be’’, and of pursuing interesting work, the need for a good work-life balance, and being fairly compensated.

“Michelle and I always tell our daughters, ‘Look, some of work is just a grind,” he tells journalist Daniel Roth.  “Some of the work is something that is useful to your employer, the person who is paying you, and it may not be fun. And that’s OK because that’s what it means to be a grown-up.”

But it’s this advice to Gen Z to “just learn how to get stuff done’’ that could change the world for this cohort, who respected social researcher Mark McCrindle says were born between 1995 and 2009.

One in two of these will end up with a university degree, and McCrindle says that within a couple of years, they’ll make up 27 per cent of our workforce.

“What I’m always looking for is, no matter how small the problem or how big it is, somebody who says, ‘let me take care of that’ … the best way to get attention is whatever is assigned to you, you are just nailing – you’re killing it because people will notice: ‘Oh, that’s somebody who can get something done’,’’ Obama says.

Just learn how to get stuff done!

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.