Photo courtesy of FarOutFlora
Ever since the term "Millennials" was coined, I imagine there has been some debate about how to characterize the members of this generation. You have likely heard the same terms used that I have, which include everything from collaborative, tech savvy and innovative to entitled, lazy and self-centered. Which ones are right, if any? I used to think that it wasn't worth putting a stake in the ground in this debate, because in the end we're all individuals so categorizing Millennials didn't really mean anything. Right?
Well, perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to decide... A recent blog post from Daniel Newman recently reopened this discussion for me and made me think that perhaps more often than not, the real issue in this debate is that Millennials aren't showing up to the table to weigh in on what is being said about them (regardless of whether or not what is being said is true).
Daniel starts by saying that "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."
Daniel identified 5 key "myths" and his take on the corresponding "truths" that I have compiled below:
Myth 1: 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
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 - We don’t see beyond ourselves. In short, that the world orbits around us rather than the sun.
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 - 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.
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 - We can’t take criticism. Further, we require constant ego stroking.
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 - 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.
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.
Daniel adds, "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.
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."
Take a seat at the table and join the discussion! What do you think is myth and what is truth when it comes to Millennials and their generational tendencies?