OK, I am now officially tired of listening to baby-boomers and gen-Xers trash talk about Millenials. The complaints I hear over and over: “entitled,” “no work ethic,” and “disrespectful.”
Maybe I’m hanging out with the cream of the crop, but the folks I know who are in their 20s and early 30s aren’t any of those things. Or maybe I’m just seeing it differently. Rather than “entitled,” I’d say, “questioning traditional pathways to success.” Instead of “no work ethic” I’d say, “unwilling to work hard at things that aren’t meaningful to them.” And I don’t see the young people I know as “disrespectful,” I see them as being “unwilling to respect others based on role or position.” In fact, the Millenials I know have enormous respect for what they see as important accomplishments, financial, social or moral.
The way my peers talk about the generation now coming up is eerily reminiscent of the way the World War II generation talked about us baby-boomers when we were in our teens and twenties. In fact, I’m absolutely positive, when I was a hippy in the late sixties and early seventies, that those exact accusations (entitled, no work ethic, disrespectful) got thrown at me and my friends. So perhaps it’s simply a universal grumble that each generation has about the subsequent one.
Why Not Grumble?
I think it’s important, though, to stop indulging in generation-based griping, and figure out what we can do to help them instead. These young people who are now entering into their adult lives are the future of our world.
Until recently, most human cultures ascribed to the theory that each generation would impart skills, values, and knowledge to succeeding generations. Young men and women apprenticing to their parents in trade; young people listening at their grandparents’ knee to the stories that defined their society — its cautions and taboos, its accomplishments and values.
And I think we can still aspire to pass along what we understand and know how to do to the next generation. I find it deeply satisfying when one of my kids, or a young colleague or client tells me that something I’ve shared has been valuable to them: it makes me feel as though I’m doing my part to support the evolution of the human race. The more we can pass along, the less each generation will have to start from scratch in figuring out important stuff.
So, my question for you: what skills, insight, or knowledge do you have that you could offer to the new generation? That is, how can you — personally — help ensure that the next generation has what they need to make this a better world?
Till next time,