“The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.” ~ Morley Safer
Here’s the thing: I don’t find millennials difficult to work with; in fact, they are the reason I am excited to get out of bed and go to work every day. I am motivated and mentored by millennials.
Approaching 50 and having lived a reasonably conservative, follow-the-rules, don’t-rock-the-boat life, I am now redefining success for myself in work, in life, and in everything in between. I credit the millennials in my midst – my children and my team at work – for my recent choices.
While people in my generation often need a reminder to “don their own oxygen mask before helping others,” millennials innately put on their own mask first. Is that entitlement? Perhaps – but there is so much more to the equation.
Millennials have grown up more connected to the world and are more aware of global issues. They understand how quickly things can change. As a result, they are not prepared to succumb to a job or life that does not serve their spirit. They know life is too short.
I am not going to tell you that millennials have it all figured out (show me a generation that does), but I do think they have a lot to offer. Daily, I am humbled by what they teach me.
Here are five things I’ve learned from the millennials in my life:
1) When in doubt, Google it.
Millennials are not afraid to say “I don’t know,” and having grown up with the Web, smartphones and specifically Google, they know the answer is usually only a few short keystrokes away.
2) Seize the moment.
The speed at which plans can evolve is ever-increasing as everyone connects over social media. Living with our phones in our hands allows us to know where everyone is and truly seize the moment because we are so easily connected.
3) There’s no excuse for not connecting.
It’s so easy to stay connected, so stay connected. There is no reason not to check-in or chat from time to time. If the desire is not there to connect with someone, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your relationships and “clean house.”
Millennial mentors have taught me that just as you can “friend” someone quickly, you can also “unfriend” them. This notion seemed extreme at first, but now I am on board. It’s harsh, but honest; which leads in to the next lesson.
4) Call it as you see it.
Authenticity and integrity define real friendship. Millennials call it as they see it. They are more forthright. I’ve learned that their wisdom comes from asking “What have I got to lose?” or “What is the worst thing that could happen?”
Perhaps this attitude and blunt approach comes from learning to communicate through technology, but I have seen countless healthy offline examples as well.
5) Do what you love, or don’t complain.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned from millennials is to truly live your passion and purpose. In my younger years, I subscribed to expectations: school, work, marriage, house, family, etc. While much of this worked for me, there are a few pieces that did not.
Now I am boldly venturing into new territory, following a passion and purpose that previously I had kept locked away “until the time was right.”
Traditionally, this motivation to live our purpose has been a rite of mid-life, but I find that the millennials come to this point earlier in their lives. They know life is ever-changing and tumultuous, so living with passion and purpose is their modus operandi.
I have been a marketer for my entire career and never has there been a demographic quite like millennials. What I love about them is the importance they put on authenticity, integrity, friends, understanding, living in the now and experiencing life.
They are driven by passion and a need for purpose, rather than a follow-the-rules, keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s mentality. They are autonomous thinkers, questioning conventional wisdom and redefining work, family life, social circles, and the list goes on. Millennials choose to make life good every day – they don’t settle.
And to that point, I have resigned from the company I started 11 years ago. I am going to travel for a few months and then start a new venture that feeds my spirit. Perhaps rather than being labelled “entitled,” we should appreciate millennials as “enlightened.”
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