We’re Not Lazy: A Response to Simon Sinek’s Millennial Thing

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.

Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page where you can chat with the whole

Being Thirties community!

And, as always, keep in touch by going to ashewoodward.com 

Eat, Pray and Love (without running away).

For those of us who love her and her work, it’s hard to imagine that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love got tons of responses to her book and the film about how she ran away from her problems. Even in the book itself she had people telling her that leaving her life and job and  going away for a year to Italy, India and Bali was a crazy thing to do.

Sure, it’s possible that a lot of those people were jealous, but some of them have a point too: when life seems to be nothing that you want, not everyone can just walk away, find ourselves in something else or somewhere else and return to ‘real life’ anew.

So what do we do instead?

Oh ya, we read these kinds of books and criticize the authors for being able to find a way. Or, we shop and spend the equivalent of a flight to Bali on shoes and useless crap. No judgement – we all do it – myself included. But what is it really costing us? What is it creating in OUR world? What messages are we passing on?

The secret here that we’ve not really talked about is that the reason we’re so damn in love with this idea, this book, the movie and even Elizabeth Gilbert herself, is that we are starving for a new play book – a rule book of sorts for the new world we live in.

I had a conversation the other day about whether or not our generation knows how to love. Being an eternal optimist (not to mention a hopeless romantic) I was inclined to fight for love and that, ‘yes, of course we do.’

But I was quickly shown how wrong I might be.

As much as technology has brought us together globally, it’s separates us from who what’s in front of our non-virtual faces. We keep our phones in our hands when we speak to people or have dinner with them. We ‘swipe right’ instead of learning to flirt, court, be awkward around new people. And now, many are saying that because we and the next generations aren’t learning relationship skills, not to mention our high standards of perfection that we see over and over online, we’re sadly destined to not have deep, meaningful relationships and not find true love. (For more on this see Simon Sinek’s answer to the Millennial Question HERE).

We’re also really the first generation of divorced parents. What do we really believe about love and marriage anyway if in our society divorce is always an option and ubiquitous? Maybe we like the idea of marriage, but what do we really believe about its power, its role or the necessity of it?

And since marriage and the question of divorce as attached to religion has been around for, like, ever, we’re also not quite sure about how we feel about that so much either.

Please, Elizabeth Gilbert, how do we love? How do we pray? How do we do anything in a world where we question religion and the existence of a creator more than ever and yet still live in the hangover of the rules, regulations and practices made in His name?

I wonder how many of us picked up GIlbert’s memoir in hopes that it was a how-to guide.

Eating might seem less exigent but let me ask you this: How do you eat? Not what, how?

Do you eat alone, in front of the TV with your smart phone at your side?

Do you turn your phone off at dinner or lunch with colleagues or clients or do you leave it on the table, allow it to vibrate on the menu, get up and take calls in between chewing? Do you get that everything in GIlbert’s book was about how much better life could be when she went out and prioritized her deepest emotion to connect and love? (And yes, Italy is of course an amazing place to start if you’re looking for how to live with more connection, intention and good food!)

So, what are we doing?

How are we doing all of these things?

T. Harv Eker often says that how we do anything is how we do everything. So, I’d say, of these 3 basics, we can pretty much be sure that our often half-assed attitude mixed with confusion is how we’re acting out all over the frickin’ place. From parenting, job-searching, friend-making and friend-keeping, listening, to everything else you can think of and in-between, we are not stepping up.

And I hate it when people blame our generation for being lazy or doomed. But guys, I’m not other people. I’m us. And I’m fed up with myself in all these respects too!

I’m fed up with how I’ve let so many wishy-washy decisions were made because I wasn’t sure what people might think or because I was afraid I didn’t have the right answer.

And I know we can do better. We can do so much better.

And so we don’t get overwhelmed with all of the many ways we a are a failure as a generation., let’s start whit the 3 basics that started it all: Eat, pray and love.

How can you eat better? How can we more often have meals made with care and surround ourselves with love as we enjoy a meal?  Start small – once a week.  And could we try NO phones in the kitchen/dining area – period?

How can we pray better? If like many of our generation, you identify as more spiritual than religious, how can you go deeper into what that really means for you and how it really fits into your identity?

And if you’re ready to get down with your spiritual side, do it. That doesn’t mean that you just go to yoga this week. It means you do a full cavity-search for why you even say you’re spiritual to begin with. Because if we really can’t back up what we mean, I’m sure that ‘spiritual,’ will be just another phrase our generation will be saddled with, something akin to ‘meh.’

To those who have strong beliefs rooted in religion and a specific faith, I wonder if you too have some exploring to do about what it means to be a person of faith in today’s society. How do you really feel when your faith is criticized or your religion is blamed? How are you doing with all of that and what do you really wish everyone knew about who you are and what role that plays for you and, therefore, the rest of us?

And love?

Well, I realize I don’t have the answer to this one. But I’m working on it. We all should be working on it. How can we love better, every day?

…our friends, spouse, kids, co-workers, fellow man, the environment, ourselves…

There’s so much to love and there has to be a way to do it better. Less cellphones and technology replacing true relationships is a start. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts on this or some action steps you’re taking to improve this in your life.

Please leave a comment and/or share with us all on our community page facebook.com/beingthirties.

No more resolutions, just being better in 2017. Here’s hoping it catches on!

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