Most people define Millennials as those born in the early eighties. Being born in early 1982, I’m kind of on the cusp of GenX too and I often find myself offended by comments made about both generations. And as a mixed-generational woman it’s also hard to resolve that while I love Nirvana and Soundgarden, I’m also addicted to posting food pics on Instagram. It’s a continuing inner battle.
But GenX has been accused of being a rather ‘meh’ generation — to use a Millennial phrase. It’s been said that we haven’t really contributed much to culture and, as a smaller segment of society, we lack the impact that the Boomers or the Millennials have.
Speaking of which, Millennials are all about the ‘impact’. Simon Sinek, in his recent viral video on Millennials in the workplace (watch HERE) almost sneers at this word in his interview, implying that we really don’t know the true meaning of it. He makes it sound like we like to throw the phrase ‘make and impact’ around but don’t know how to actually implement strategies to achieve it.
Sinek also says that Millennials are being “accused” by older generations as, “lazy, entitled and impatient.” He claims that we got here by being told that we are “special” and when we grow up we can have anything we want, which he says is a mistake in Boomer and GenX parenting strategies.
Sure this contributed, and Sinek is careful to say that this was no one’s fault. So why then does it still feel like we’re playing the blame game here?
Oh ya, because this isn’t the whole story. And maybe it’s also that we feel like saying, “Hey Simon, you’re not a Millennial so it does feel like you’re accusing us too.”
But perhaps because of time constraints in the interview Sinek isn’t able to paint the fuller picture of all the motivations for why Millennials are ‘the way they are,’ but I personally think he missed the biggest one to point out:
It’s not that we’re lazy, we just DON’T WANT TO WORK TO DEATH!
We’ve seen the Boomers kill themselves, working 9–5 jobs, 5 days a week for years, just to reach retirement, where life can finally ‘begin’.
We’ve seen near-idyllic marriages fall part after twenty plus years.
And, we’ve seen GenX sit there, admittedly, like deer in the headlights, not knowing what this all means or what to do next and as a result and be paralyzed by fear, resulting in this ‘non-contributing generation.’
This then has resulted in more divorce, more stress, more ‘hard-work’ because maybe, just maybe, we thought we could stick to the old model if we just did it more and harder.
Enter the Millennials with our ‘lofty’ ideals of work less, live more . What a ‘lazy concept.’
Or is it a revolt and a rebellion that society needs?
Entitled? Yep. I agree with Sinek here. We were told we could have it, so now we want it. We’re an ambitious generation who know what we want. Is that so terrible?
We’re saying that working to live for the weekends isn’t cutting it. We’re saying that ya, let’s have beanbag chairs to start, but that’s only the beginning. And (duh!) it’s only a symbol for how we see the workplace as the first place paradigms need to shift.
We’re saying we accept that we live in a culture where we are what we do for a living. But we’re also asking if there’s a better way.
And maybe we are sitting around pondering the idea too much. Or maybe we are on our phones, playing Angry Birds, avoiding the weight of it all. But you can’t deny that we’re shaking it up – at least more than GenX. No offense.
It seems that everyone has seen this video and lately when I share what I do for a living and what I blog about, most people mention this clip and are more than eager to agree with Sinek, saying he, “hit it out of the park,” and everything is “right on the money”. They laugh in agreement at how they don’t understand how we can be so addicted to devices and be so unruly to manage. They look to me as if I’ll high-five them because someone is finally putting these entitled brats in their place.
But I don’t think that’s not what Sinek wants us to see. And I’m not high-fifing just yet.
Sinek is a fabulous leader and that’s what he’s most known for – teaching leadership skills. Undoubtedly, his voice will be an important one as Millennials get older and become the leaders of the generations that follow. But he’s not a Millennial. He’s right there with all the other leaders trying to figure out what will inspire Millennials to make all the impact we want to make which will inevitably help everyone, including the generations to come.
He’s struggling to figure out how to lead us as we’re trying to break the mold. And where he’s landed seems to be in a place of pointing out the very worst in us so we look in the mirror, while urging us to hold on to what’s important – relationships and patience.
Interestingly, a few websites describe him as an optimist, but one of the biggest things I have a problem with in his interview is his description of the, ‘best case scenario.’ He says that if we continue to exhibit impatience and a lack of relationship skills, we will become a very uninspired, neutral generation that is ‘fine’ with how things are in their life – from relationships to career, Millennials will stop asking for more and will give up on their ambitions. In other words, we will fully embrace a life of, ‘meh.’
I have to call BS on this. That’s a pretty pessimistic outlook, Mr. Sinek. It’s here that I wonder if he really isn’t being ironic afterall…
By challenging the 9-5 work day and the 5-day work week with our more entrepreneurial and non-profit spirits, we’ve already begun to shift an over 100 year old system. See, we got a little taste of the impact that’s possible and we want more.
And I don’t think our idealism and ambition will be worn down by nay-saying Boomers and GenXers. I think we’re just itching to be in those leadership positions so we might show you how it’s done.
Maybe we’re hard to manage because we don’t trust you. And maybe we don’t trust you because we’re addicted to our devices, or maybe it’s that you haven’t given us a reason to. I mean, why should I want to be like you and work tooth and nail for a thankless corporation that pollutes the environment? Or how can I really use the the words of wisdom from a mentor who started his career before computers were smaller than an entire room?
Sure we’re going to have to make adjustments to the ways technology has influenced our lives, especially our relationships, but we’re working on it. You may see our obsession with devices as a terrible addiction, but it’s also made us pretty industrious.
And our entitlement? Well, I personally think it’s dwarfed by our ingenuity and desire to add our flavour to the zeitgeist soup. Just watch.
Or maybe Sinek is right and we won’t figure it all out and we’ll continue not to know what we want. Then the next generation will be saddled with the responsibility of pleasing a generation who can’t articulate what needs to be done. Oh, how will they be able to impress these leaders who want you to work less but better?
I guess they’ll just have to up their game, raise the standards and forward humanity once again.
So for that, and for being impatient, entitled and lazy: #sorrynotsorry.
What did YOU feel when you were watching the interview? Do you think Sinek is ‘on point’ or ‘out to lunch’?
I’d love to hear more about what OUR GENERATION has to say as a defence or response to this.
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