Have you seen Simon Sinek’s response to the “Millennial question” on Inside Quest? As with any viral video, there have been a great number of reactions to it.
Some were very positive; Simon stated that since the release of this video many viewers have indicated that they have now started to ban the use of cell phones in meetings and others are even turning their phones off when they get home.
Some have been a bit critical. That being said, I would like to review Simon’s take on my generation.
Millennials: Entitled, Narcissistic, Self-Interested, Unfocused, Lazy
These adjectives are, quite frequently, used to describe my generation. For some, they may have a degree of truth behind them and perhaps for good reason. But I hope that, by and large, these accusations are largely erroneous. However, I do agree with Simon, these descriptions do tend to stem from several characteristics.
Simon’s 4 Characteristics of Millennials
Parents and “Failed Parenting Strategies”
As Simon discusses the detrimental aspects of our upbringing, he explores the impacts of both helicopter parenting and, the infamous, participation trophy. To me, the argument here is essentially that the efforts of our parents. While their intentions may have been laudable, this practice inadvertently taught us a rather poor lesson. The things we want in life will happen, often with little personal effort. This certainly ties in with the sense of entitlement.
However, at least to me, it feels like Simon justifies this by saying that it’s not the Millennial’s fault… that we were simply dealt a bad hand. I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. Saying this removes the responsibility from the Millennials and puts it on our parents. It would be more appropriate to say that we have adhered to and lived by the idea that we can do anything we want to do (as our parents taught us when we were you) perhaps to a fault. It is our responsibility to acknowledge this faulty mental frame and adjust so that it functions within the bounds of the guidelines set forth by our firms.
We can still achieve our goals, but we must learn to go about it in the proper manner. An effort which may necessitate proper mentoring from our coworkers and leaders.
As Simon mentions, cell phones and social media are more intrusive and detrimental than many of us may realize. Rather than us programming our devices, it is the other way around. Many of us have experienced the phenomenon of a phantom rings/vibration. We react to our phones even if the stimulus is imagined.
What’s worse is that we let technology impact us both emotionally and psychologically. When we are separated from our devices many of us panic, it’s as if a part of us has been removed.
As Simon indicates, many of us have become addicted to the rush of dopamine we often experience when we scroll through social media and count our likes. Simon mentions the fact that researchers have discovered a correlation between Facebook usage and symptoms of depression.
To that end, I feel it is important to mention that a relationship has also been established linking Facebook use with the each of the Big Five, most notably self-esteem and narcissism. Clearly, human nature is quite complex, and understanding the inner-workings of a subset requires a much larger lens than we may be prepared to handle.
As things stand, technology has a persistent grasp on our lives. We need to learn to detach from it and reintegrate ourselves with the real world. To expound on Simon’s other point, we no long focus on the propagation or nurturing of relationships. In fact, it has gotten to a point where we would much rather send a quick text to satisfy our need for social interaction than ask our coworker about the status of a family member after a surgery. We need to disconnect in order to reconnect.
We grew up in a world where instant gratification is presented as the norm. You want to know the score of the super bowl? Just google it. Can’t find a good restaurant? Use Yelp. Need gas? Gasbuddy. Need groceries but you can’t drive? Uber… or, if you’re lucky, AmazonFresh. Every facet of our lives has an app/device that can provide you with the answers or results you seek.
Given that our world has become increasingly more automated and everything is instant, it is no wonder that we have developed an inability to be patient. While I neither condone nor support it, I can certainly understand why some of my generational cohorts are criticized for being impatient, especially in the workforce. Perhaps the longest waits we regularly encounter are simply to update the apps on our phones.
I do agree with Simon here; we need to learn that this expectation for instant fulfillment doesn’t translate to the workforce. In order to make an impact and have total job fulfillment, we need to come to grips with reality. This takes time. We have to put in the effort and realize that we can’t look at this in the short term, the “impact” of our efforts in the workforce has a cumulative effect that will not have a fruitful yield in the short term.
Learning this virtue of patience is not easy. Perhaps, one thing that will help nurture it is proper guidance and clarity at work, especially regarding the firm’s expectations for you.
When addressing this characteristic, Simon discusses his belief that corporate environments are failing to provide the Millennials (and, subsequently, Gen Z) with the leadership necessary to instill the proper values and skills needed to succeed in the workplace. He continues to say that given the state of things, it is now on the shoulders of company to help the employee overcome the challenges of the digital generation and the need for instant gratification.
The focus needs to shift from the long term life of the individual than the short term gains and the numbers. But most of all, Simon says cell phones ought to be banned in meetings. This rule is suggested to help us regain that social aspect of our lives that we seem to be lacking.
As I’ve mentioned throughout my review of Simon Sinek’s response to the “Millennial Question”, ensuring that your company has good leaders and effective mentors is imperative. We don’t want our hands held, but we do want guidance. We want to do more than succeed, we want to excel.
In order to do that, we may need help overcoming our shortcomings. It comes down to this: invest in us and we will reward you.