Life

A Millennial Challenge For Our Older, Wiser Generations

I recently had a conversation with a Baby Boomer (you see, it already feels strange to refer to somebody by their generational title, except when referring to a millennial) about what makes us different. Aside from our age and the fact that I fortunately had a few less gray hairs, I was perplexed by this discussion. Not because I didn’t have an answer, but rather because I was expecting her to know the answer as well.

 

I began to list off the stereotypes. We are privileged, we require instant gratification, we require coddling, we defy traditional leadership, and I was stopped. “I understand how millennials are viewed, but what makes you and I different?” I tried to think harder but could not come up with anything besides the standard clichés I had heard about my peers and myself. She interjected, “Explain to me why these changes in viewpoint came about.” My immediate thought was to speak about social media, and we ended up having a good conversation, but I was still a little shook after our chat.

 

I did some research online and found an eye-opening millennial speech. It’s world-renowned motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek, and he outlines the causes for millennial degradations pertaining to parenting, technology, impatience, and environment. My letter to other generations about the state of the millennial population is both a response and a reaction to this talk.

 

Dear Xennials (33 to 43), Generation X (39 to 53), Baby Boomers (54 to 72), The Silent Generation (73 to 93), and The Greatest Generation (94 to 108),

 

First and foremost, I had to look these up because I had never even heard of these classifications until now, aside from the occasional Baby Boomer mention in old Social Studies textbooks.

 

This is our first problem.

 

Providing a distinguishable, often-used phrase to refer to an entire group of people should not serve as justification to believe that in some way shape or form, we all elicit the exact same qualities.

 

It seems as if there is this jumbled up, reactionary millennial progression as to how others view us. It looks like this.

 

Acceptance: We are viewed as individuals first and foremost. Nothing has occurred that has forced others to believe otherwise. Good start.

 

Opportunity: We have potential. We are given more responsibility, trust, and overall understanding.

 

Conflict: An argument, disagreement, varying viewpoint gets thrown into the mix, and turmoil ensues.

 

Judgment: The stereotypes are uncovered and released into the open.

 

Classification: We are just a millennial in their eyes, no different than our peers. No matter which way you slice us, we are still snowflakes looking to get ahead as quickly as possible.

 

I am not saying you are not wise, I am not saying we do not value your opinions and life experience, and I am not saying that we cannot be doing better than we currently are.

 

We can all be doing better.

 

But what I am saying is that there has to be a deeper understanding than solely relying on societal norms, stereotypes, and justifications. This will only lead to isolation, abandonment, and a further decline in millennial mental health, which is already so devastatingly plaguing this generation.

 

As mentors, coaches, teachers, bosses, and role models for our generation, I challenge you to think a bit differently.

 

Dear Xennials (33 to 43), Generation X (39 to 53), Baby Boomers (54 to 72), The Silent Generation (73 to 93), and The Greatest Generation (94 to 108),

 

I challenge you to do 3 things:

 

  1. Challenge the overemphasis on short-term growth

A friend of mine quit his job just recently. He had put in over a year of excellent work, was a highly valued member of the team, had strong relationships with his coworkers, managers, and the CEO, and went about leaving the firm in as professional a way as possible.

 

But rather than being met with well wishes, opportunities to keep in touch in the future, and an overall sense of decency and acceptance based on his decision to advance his career, he was met with disdain, rooted in fear for the short-term.

 

His manager asked how quickly he could pass work off to the next person, how long it would take for him to teach them about his deals, and if he could complete his current work so as to not put the company in a hole. His CEO simply asked how long it would take him before he walked out the door.

 

You see, the firms’ reaction may seem ordinary at first glance. They have responsibilities, they have spots they need to fill, and they have work that needs to be done. But, there is a stark contrast between ordinary and correct.

 

The correct reaction, the one I challenge others to consider when interacting with millennials, is consideration for long-term growth. We are too often adhering to the horrors of short-term gains and instant gratification. By the boss not understanding that this was a decision that would benefit his valued employee in the long-term, it only furthered this millennial qualification that everything has to happen right now.

 

Dear Xennials (33 to 43), Generation X (39 to 53), Baby Boomers (54 to 72), The Silent Generation (73 to 93), and The Greatest Generation (94 to 108),

 

Consider your own actions, necessities, and beliefs before insisting how much we crave instant results.

 

  1. Challenge the importance of in person communication

Technology has obviously been one of the great accomplishments but also pitfalls of this era. Yes, millennials are the main culprit for overexposing themselves to it, constantly texting, tweeting, snapping, and storying. But our superiors are not so innocent.

 

Leave mom or dad alone at the dinner table to go to the bathroom, and the phone comes out. Grab a drink with colleagues and all the phones are face up on the table. Walk into a meeting a few minutes early and immediately check that rectangular box that gives you information overload.

 

All of this rather than sit and think? Sit and converse? Sit and listen? Sit and respond? Conversation is the building block for relationships. Relationships are the building blocks for success.

 

Millennials are blamed for the attachment to our electronics, yet when given the opportunity, our older generations exude the same characteristics.

 

Dear Xennials (33 to 43), Generation X (39 to 53), Baby Boomers (54 to 72), The Silent Generation (73 to 93), and The Greatest Generation (94 to 108),

 

Consider your own actions when it comes to interacting with technology. Lead by example, and put the phones away.

 

  1. Challenge the masquerading of ordinary life with highlight reels

We surround ourselves with people whose lives we desire. We follow our older heroes on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. We long for their lavish lives, their relationships, and their money. There is constant exposure to the very best lives imaginable, which in actuality, are most often photos hiding fear, doubt, and insecurity. They are highlight reel photos that do not uncover the difficult journey that got that person there, the lack of sleep, the forgetting to eat, and the obstacles needed to overcome.

 

If you are using these photos to motivate, then that is fine. But, if you are looking to elicit jealousy or envy, then that is a red flag. And whether it is a non-millennial posting and being one of these influencers, or a non-millennial who follows them, consider the message you are delivering to us. Is it one that wishes to inspire? Or one that wishes to gloat? Do you use these pictures to ignite your ambition? Or do you use them for self-pity?

 

Dear Xennials (33 to 43), Generation X (39 to 53), Baby Boomers (54 to 72), The Silent Generation (73 to 93), and The Greatest Generation (94 to 108),

 

Consider the media you display and the people you follow. Create more accurate and meaningful depictions of life, ones that do not shy away from hardship and struggle. Share the triumphs, but make sure to include the entire story.

 

Moving Forward

It has to feel more normal, and be more normal to disengage. The moment we rip our cords out of the wall of this constantly plugged in society, will be the moment when we can think the most clearly and freely. We will be able to make sense of the relationship that just ended. We will be able to make sense of the job that is not fulfilling us. We will be able to make sense of the people who truly matter to us most. We will be able to make sense of whether or not Miles Teller’s decision to crush that solo at the end of Whiplash was a good idea!

 

But we can only make sense of all of these life phenomena if we are guided in the right direction. Say to me, “Jordan, you don’t know what you’re talking about. We do provide the exact guidance necessary, you are all just too naïve to listen.” I don’t disagree with you. I can’t, because this is not a one-size-fits all challenge.

 

Just like millennials are not a one-size-fits all cohort.

 

Call to Action

If you enjoyed this, check out Getting COMFY: Your Morning Guide to Daily Happiness!

2 thoughts on “A Millennial Challenge For Our Older, Wiser Generations

  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

    1. Hi Rufina! Thank you for the incredibly kind note! I agree, I am adding more pictures to my blog posts for sure! I did sort of write a book about it! If you don’t mind me asking, how did you come across this blog?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *