Five Lies We Believe About Millennials
All too often millennials are the proverbial punching bag when it comes to how they are spoken about by leaders in the work force.
However, the more time I have spent working with millennials the more I realize what we are being told about them simply isn’t true.
Today I want to expose five lies we often believe.
Lie #1 – Millennials Are Lazy
The opposite is actually true – millennials have an INCREDIBLE work ethic—and are the greatest CAUSE driven generation this world has ever had.
The reason many millennials are labeled as lazy is because they are not being led well—period.
When people around my age (40’s and 50’s) stepped into the workforce we wanted to know WHAT to do – millennials want to know WHY.
If a leader can spend a little extra time with the millennials he or she has the privilege of leading and explain “this is WHAT we do – and this is WHY it matter” in a way that makes sense, they will experience greater productivity, passion and overall satisfaction by those they once considered “lazy.”
(By the way – wanting to know “why” doesn’t mean a person is lazy…it COULD mean the leader is lazy because they refuse to spend the time to explain “why”…or lack the knowledge themselves!)
Lie #2 – Millennials Are Entitled
All of us (including me) have mad jokes about millennials receiving “8th place/participation trophies.”
However, one day as I was joking about this it hit me – they didn’t ask for those trophies.
Participation trophies were the result of insecure parents who didn’t want their child to feel left out, and, as a result, created an environment where everyone was rewarded…
…and now the very people who created that environment criticize it.
Honestly, it’s people my age (and older) who are entitled. After all, it wasn’t the millennials who created the greatest recession since the Great Depression – it was their parents!
I’ve experienced more gratitude from millennials than any other age bracket I know. When we take the time to explain the why, invite them on the journey and encourage them in the process – they will express more gratitude than you could ever imagine.
Lie #3 – Millennials Are On Their Phones Too Much
The previous generation always criticizes the current generation for things they do not understand.
I recently watched a popular author/thought leader criticize millennials for being on their phones and, as a result, missing “real conversation.” However, what people my age fail to understand is, for millennials, what they are experiencing on their mobile devices IS real conversation.
People my parents age used to say to me growing up, “You need to quit spending so much time playing Atari/Nintendo. When I was a kid we played outside and made friends…” However, what they did not understand is people my age established GREAT friendships zapping through Mario world…or playing a season on Super Tecmo Bowl!
(And…our grandparents told our parents they watched too much TV…like I said, they previous generation always criticizes the current generation for things they do not understand.
People my age learned the telephone was for talking, millennials see the mobile device as a way of connecting with people on a global scale.
Lie #4 – Millennials Are Too Obsessed With Themselves
Everyone is obsessed with themselves—period. This is not a millennial thing, it’s a humanity thing!
The evidence people will point are the number of “selfies” millennials post on social media.
First of all – people my age actually post just as many selfies.
However, “selfies” have been around for thousands of years. Even a novice studying archeology has seen clay sculptures of people (how obsessed with themselves would someone have to be to stand and let someone spend hours sculpting them) – OR…we see portraits in just about any art history class we take (once again, how obsessed with themselves does someone have to be to sit and be drawn/painted for hours and hours?)
To be quite honest, I have discovered that millennials are more moved by social justice causes that any other generation I know, they are quick to throw their own needs aside to step into injustice and do whatever it takes to help the poor and oppressed.
I believe millennials will lead the greatest revival/awakening this world has ever seen – but it won’t be through theories, but rather through young men and women who are willing to do whatever it takes to take the Gospel to the world.
Lie #5 – Millennials Are Not As Smart As Previous Generations
Uh…if this is true then why in the world when we can’t figure something out on our phones we ask our children…or grandchildren.
Millennials may not have the education pedigree the previous generations have experienced (we are absolutely settling them up for failure by telling them they need to go to college, forcing them to take out massive student loans and saddling them with a lifetime of debt) – but they have something my generation did not have…
When it comes to this lie I would actually argue the opposite – that millennials are actually smarter than previous generations. Because, when they do not have the knowledge to figure something out – it’s right at their finger tips.
I’ve seen millennials who have never darkened the doors of an institution of higher learning build websites, write code for apps on mobile devices and dive into questioning issues previous generations have been unwilling to deal with. (People my age were told WHAT to believe and to not ask questions – that simply will not work anymore!)
I believe millennials will discover a cure for cancer, begin to eradicate poverty on a global scale (because they think global) and solve other problems in the world that previous generations have only been able to complain about.
Millennials have more potential than any other generation in the world – and if we want to help them then we need to spend more time encouraging them, understanding them and teaching them rather than writing them off and saying they will never amount to anything.
And…at the end of the day…all of us should be as nice as possible to millennials; after all, they are the ones who will pick the old folks home we one day reside in!