I once gave a presentation on leadership to a group of educators where I stressed the need to help engineering students have more practical experiences that will help them be more effective leaders in their careers. I emphasized the basic principle required for proactive leadership: identifying where you want to be and then actively taking steps to get there from where you are now. So simple, but many organizations and individuals fail to do this with serious intent. In discussing leadership experiences for young people, I was mostly thinking of experiences like collaborative technical projects. But there’s another collaborative project that might also be an important but often neglected part of their education: dating, as in formally asking someone out and going on a real date, even one that is planned.
Not long after my presentation, I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with a General Authority of the Church. In our conversation, he mentioned that when President Monson was asked what problems in the Church most keep him up at night,the answer was surprising: “Girls without dates.” The General Authority went on to tell me that the Church is very concerned about young men who seem to be passive about life and do not make progress toward marriage, leaving many women even at places like BYU feeling frustrated and neglected. Many young men seem to think that “hanging out” with their friends is sufficient and do not take the steps required for courtship.
That’s when it occurred to me that the failure of many young men to date reflects the problem of leadership skills. The passive approach to life, the one that is content with television and video games, is one that allows people to stay in thir current state without actively seeking progress. The proactive approach is focused on goals and deliberate steps toward desired ends. If one is an active Latter-day Saint, chances are that individual recognizes marriage as a desired end. But that is a goal that requires activity now, even the painful growth activity of asking someone out and planning a date. What better way to develop proactive leadership skills, and perhaps solve some major social problems as well?
Young men, there are too many girls without dates. Become a proactive leader now and change that. There’s no future in video games. There’s not a lot of future in whatever you’re doing just hanging out with buds. But there is a future in dating, courtship, and marriage. My opinion, of course.
We need leaders in this world. Now get out there and start generating some proactive leadership experiences.