The Adulthood Problem

On a recent trip to an amusement park with my 4-year-old twin nephews we wandered from ride to ride looking for ones that intrigued them, and we were confronted with the dreaded height ruler. They were not quite tall enough for the rides they were interested in, and those that met the height qualification were “for babies.”

It was about to become a day filled with tears and tantrums. Thankfully, the water park saved me, but I was reminded of a theme that follows us through life and provides a strong leadership and management lesson.

I call it the Adulthood Problem.

Think back. Like my nephews, you were probably impatient for the next stage in life and were sure that things would be better as soon as you…

  • Were old enough to get your driver’s license and experience the freedom that would give you
  • Finished high school and were able to leave home for college
  •  Stopped studying and were able to start working
  • Quit a job you disliked and found a new job or get a promotion
  • Stopped dating and found the right person to marry and settle down

Have you noticed that things don’t just get better? There’s always something more. How many of us have said things will be better once the merger or re-structuring in our organization is complete, or that sales will improve once the marketing team provides a decent advertising campaign or changes our pricing, or things will get better once we have a new operating system.

How many of us are either waiting for things to change or hoping for changes to stop? The given reality is that things never just get better and change never stops.

The solution to the Adulthood Problem is that you manage it. You manage change. You lead and manage with the resources, tools, products and pricing that you have today.

It’s that simple. As leaders and managers if you don’t demonstrate to your people that you can handle the challenges and changes facing the organization, then they will not. That’s the bottom line.

As a leader and manager your role is not to wish away challenges. It’s your responsibility to navigate through them, guiding your team, and making the most of your given reality.

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Cohen Brown Management Group is the internally recognized leader in sales-and-service cultural and behavioral change, specializing in consulting and training processes for management, front-line, support/customer service units and call centers. Performance Grapevine provides thought leadership insights on sales training, sales management, leadership training, time management, consultative selling, behavior change, organization change, and culture change.


  1. Alasdair 13 years ago

    I absolutely agree with this. Every organisation had finite resources; it’s how you use and prioritise those resources that counts; it’s called productivity and return on assets employed. Another Adulthood issue that seems endemic is that of responsibility and accountability. In adulthood we have to learn that the two go hand in hand.
    One cannot have the responsibility of home ownership, but not be accountable for the repayments or the responsibility of having a cell/mobile phone and not be accountable for the phone bill. This seems to be a major free floating leadership issue around the world with some of the worst examples coming from politicians and Wall Street. These leaders want positions of responsibility and the perks that go with it, but don’t want the accountability that comes with those responsibilities. When things go wrong, they abdicate all ownership and accountability for the issues at hand, most of which are of their own making and usually as a result of the inappropriate use or misappropriation/abuse of those finite resources.

    • Great comments Alasdair. I have to agree that ownership and accountability is an issue and I believe it is a major obstacle to growth and reaching true potential.

Leave a reply