November 2, 2012

The Next Generation of World Changers

I have something to say to my generation. And the reality is, you’re probably not going to like it. You may get mad. You may deny it. You may not […]

I have something to say to my generation. And the reality is, you’re probably not going to like it. You may get mad. You may deny it. You may not ever read this again.

And honestly, that’s okay with me. I don’t mind if you get mad. I don’t mind if you give me the finger and walk away.

Because here’s the thing: that’s what my generation does. When we hear something we don’t like, when we don’t get our way, we get our panties in a wad and go back home to our parents’ basement and sit and complain about how unfair life is.

The Washington Post refers to Generation Y (which includes everyone born in the 80’s & 90’s) as a "pampered, over-praised, and relentlessly self-confident generation" who has been offered independence, control, and endless options our entire lives. And, as part of Generation Y, I would have to agree with that.

Now, I know it sounds like I’m completely bashing this generation. I don’t know, maybe I am being a bit harsh. But to be honest, somebody has to. Somebody has to step up and say it like it is.

And if you are not part of Generation Y, don’t think this does not apply to you! This affects you, no matter who you are or what generation you’re a part of. Because you are either working with this generation, you raised this generation, or you encounter this generation in your every day life.

See, when we were kids, we got trophies just for showing up to our basketball games. But if we didn’t want to go to practice one day, we didn’t go. And when it came time to sign up for baseball, we decided we wanted to do that instead, so we quit basketball and moved on to the next sport. It was the same for ballet, football, gymnastics, piano, Boy Scouts, etc.

We had closets full of clothes, but we still had "nothing to wear". We had shelves full of toys, but we were still bored. We had a refrigerator full of food, but there was still "nothing to eat".

The TV was our favorite babysitter, and our parents were our best friends. We expected to go shopping for new school clothes each fall, and we always had to have the latest & greatest clothes or accessories or toys or gadgets. (And don’t think that, just because your family was ‘poor’, this doesn’t apply to you. I came from a family who always struggled financially, and it was exactly the same for me, too. Sure, it was usually the Wal-Mart brand, but it’s essentially the same across the board…)

So what I see here is that my generation wants to be rewarded for participation, regardless of their work, their commitment, or the value they bring to the table. And if we don’t like something, we quit. If someone tells us something we don’t want to hear it, we go cry and whine to Mommy & Daddy.

But what about when we grow up? What happens when we go out into the real world?

According to the Washington Post, Generation Y will make up 75% of the American workforce by 2025. So let’s just fast forward for a minute. Imagine what will happen when the workforce is run by a generation of people who were raised in a custom-made, microwave society, who received trophies just for showing up to the game, and who grew up with endless options for everything from their clothes to their food to their friends.

Well, let’s take a look at Gen Y’s expectations for their professional lives:

  • 91% of Generation Y workers expect to stay in a job for less than 3 years at a time (Forbes).
  • 40% feel that they should be promoted every 2 years, regardless of achievements or work habits, and only 9% believe they should receive promotions based on their performance (Time Magazine).
  • 92% feel that their company is lucky to have them, and 76% think their boss could learn a lot from them (USA Today).
  • 81% of Gen Y workers say they should be able to set their own hours. 70% say they need more "me time" on the job. And 90% believe they deserve to have their dream job (MTV survey).

Just look at the facts, my friend. We have kids who expect to get a promotion at work just for showing up! We have a generation of young people who think their jobs are going to be custom made for them and that they will get to choose exactly what they do, how & when they do it, and if it’s not what they want, then they simply won’t do it!

Ya know, we hear a lot about unemployment these days, especially among college graduates. In fact, according to Time Magazine, 53% of recent college grads are either unemployed or underemployed.

Sounds tragic, huh? Those poor, unfortunate college grads.

But here’s the trippy part: According to the Washington Post, 50% of Gen Y-ers would rather be unemployed than to stay in a job they hate. And more than half of Gen Y workers will not accept a job at a company that bans the use of social media at work (Forbes).

So you tell me why 53% of this generation is unemployed. Is it because there are no jobs out there for us? Or is it because we don’t want to settle for a job we don’t like?

Though, I suppose Generation Y can afford to be choosy about their jobs, considering their notorious dependence on their parents. After all, when they quit their jobs, they can just move back in with Mom & Dad. (Pew research says 40% of Generation Y will move back in with their parents at least once.) And the Washington Post reported that 41% of Gen Y receives financial support from their parents after college.

Like I said earlier, I know it sounds like I’m bashing this generation. And I know this is hard to take in. But there’s something I haven’t told you yet. It’s quite possibly the biggest redeeming quality of this generation.

USA Today reported that 61% of Generation Y feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world. 79% say they want to work for a company that actually cares about how it contributes to society. Forbes summed it up when they stated, "What Millennials want most is a career that actually matters."

As part of Generation Y, I have to say…they pretty much nailed it with that statement. We’ve been told all our lives that we can be anything we want when we grow up. We can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone we want. We are told to chase our dreams, to discover who we are, to make a difference in the world.

So by the time we get out of school and get ready to enter the ‘real world’, we are a bunch of fireballs of pure potential, with endless opportunities right in front of us.

I mean, sure, it’s great that this generation of young people are driven by a deep desire to feel satisfied in their work and to make the world a better place, but it seems that we have taken "Follow your passion" to be sound career advice. We we take all of that potential and we spend our time searching for our passion, and once we find it, we spend the rest of our time searching for a career inside of that passion, thinking that’s the only path to satisfaction.

Well, I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true. Satisfaction doesn’t come from a job. It doesn’t come from working within your preferred industry or from following your passion.

So STOP SEARCHING!!! Stop trying to figure out who you are and what you want! DO what’s in front of you. Prosper where you’re planted. Give 100% – give your best – work with excellence and dilligence, regardless of what you’re doing. That is where satisfaction comes from!

You want to make a difference in the world? GREAT! But how are you making a difference where you are right now? What impact can you make in your job right now? In your school? In your family? I promise you, if you can be trusted with what you have right now, you will be trusted with more.

Whether you believe it or not, you have influence over other people right now. You can make a difference in the world right now, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pursue your passion or follow your dreams. But what I am saying is that it’s time to grow up. We don’t need more generational job hoppers. We don’t need more inconsistent, unreliable, entitled kids! We need big thinkers, hard workers, and world changers. But it’s hard to change the world if you don’t get to work. Here’s a great place to start!

 

In great faith,

 

Dani's signature

Join the conversation