Over the past few months I have closely followed the crowd as they speak about “The Millennial” as it relates to life, work, and social skills.
Article after article riddled with opinions, stereotypes, and generalizations about an entire generation that does little more than magnify the shortcomings and belittle the contribution that the next generation brings to society.
What are these supposed shortcomings? Well I’ve noted many but the general consensus are the following…I’ll entitle them “The Myths”
Myth 1: We’re Entitled – We believe that the world should be handed to us. For instance a college degree means we should be given a key to the executive offices
Myth 2: We’re Self Centered – We don’t see beyond ourselves. In short, that the world orbits around us rather than the sun.
Myth 3: We’re Lazy – We aren’t willing to get our hands dirty. The boomers worked hard for their success and the millennials think it should be ours because we showed up.
Myth 4: We’re Fragile – We can’t take criticism. Further, we require constant ego stroking.
Myth 5: We’re Never Leaving Home – We don’t have the will or drive to go out on our own. If our parents allowed it we would never move fly from the nest.
Well I’ve read and I’ve listened. Now, I have decided it is time to speak up, to enlighten on where this all comes from and then present the truth at least as it is seen in the eyes of this millennial.
Ironically the content isn’t coming from millennials but rather from a rash of Gen X and Baby Boomers who are filling up the interwebs and making their living off of teaching, preaching, and misguiding business after business about the wants and needs of millennials.
I suppose that opinions of all shapes and sizes are welcome to any debate so I’m not suggesting that the older generations don’t continue to write about the millennial. I am however putting it out there that it is time for more millennials to speak up about the contributions that we are making and how we are shaping the future.
If for nothing else to refute the mass (inaccurate) communications that are being delivered on our behalf.
While some of the things that the experts say may be true within the constraints of the research, What is also true is that Millennials are next. It is this misunderstood, overgeneralized generation that will lead the evolution, revolution, and transformation of our world.
And guess what, in some ways we already have! Mark Zuckerberg, a millennial and Facebook founder has forever transformed the way we communicate with our friends, family, and the world. With nearly 800 million users the site has transcended every traditional media growth rate and is now the defacto standard communication platform for individuals and businesses alike. Other highly commercialized platforms such as Pinterest, FourSquare, and WordPress were all products of the Millennial.
That is why the myths must be accompanied by some truths. And not truths that come from sample research or from opinionated baby boomers, but from the heart and mind of a millennial that is passionate about his generation and wants the world sees us for what we are. Here are my truths in relation to the previously identified myths.
Myth 1: Entitled
Truth: We need to not confuse entitled with having big dreams. Millennials are very entrepreneurial and we desire to make a substantial contribution right away. Perhaps we are impatient, but we want to see more rapid change. Remember, we have lived through a technological revolution like none ever before. Fast is the only speed we know.
Myth 2: Self Centered
Truth: While perhaps progressive at times in our thinking we see selflessness as a more global effort whereas generations before tended to pursuit this within family and community. While we may not have the same sense of family values and perhaps that is unfortunate. We have brought social good and consciousness to a whole new level (Post Tsunami Japan). Think about the revolutions that we have helped facilitate around the world (Egypt) by utilizing our modern means of communication. Millennial adoption of technology is making the world that much smaller!
Myth 3: Lazy
Truth: We aren’t lazy (entirely), we think that there are different and more transformative ways to deal with problems. However since most of us work for and with older generations they still want to do things the old/hard way. I’ve heard all generations discuss productivity over perceived effort so why should it be any different here?
Myth 4: We’re Fragile
Truth: I think the reality is we may be more expressive of our feelings. In the past being open and sensitive was taboo, now it isn’t. From our early upbringing we were pushed more to be expressive and to be sensitive beings. While this can present challenges in the workplace, it also enhances opportunities for real communication. While I am an advocate for sometimes limiting your personal feelings in the workplace, we weren’t born to be miserable either.
Myth 5: We’re Never Leaving Home
Truth: Many millennials happened to come out of school during one of the worst economic times since the great depression (this may have been worse). With a tough job market and frozen credit I’m not sure that the data related to millennials moving back home is as related to their desire to be there as it is their need for a roof. I have many millennial friends and not one of them whether still at home or not have the desire to be there.
So there you have it. Perhaps the truth is in the eyes of the millennial, and not in the eyes of the data sample. And while this is a completely non scientific first person perspective, its merit is rooted in my life experience as a millennial. This means new ideas, a global perspective, a different type of work ethic, an open demeanor, and of course a desire to create our own success (And Move Out)!