You CAN’T be anything you want to be

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If you’re a fellow millennial, this subject probably just offended you incredibly…and there’s a definite reason why.

I’ve been studying up on the different generations of workforce. Honestly, I’m fascinated and blown away. I could write an entirely new blog on all that I’m learning but put easily, as influenced by Brad Karsh’s book “Manager 3.0”:

Baby Boomers – born 1946-64 – idealistic, competitive, smart, collaborative – if they were in a fight at school, they’d be grounded and held responsible.

Generation X – born 1965-1980 – independent, creative, fighters – if they were in a fight at school, they’d train and learn to improve so that they could win the fight next time.

Millennials – born 1981-2000 – endless potential – if they were in a fight at school, there would be a conversation about the school not being a good fit, a teacher not doing their part to foster better communication methods, etc…

Karsh makes some awesome points about millennials, including that they (we) were conditioned to believe in endless potential and a huge sense of idealism. I can remember growing up and hearing over and over again that I could do anything. Heck, I got trophies just for signing up and showing up in every sport league I was in – even if I was awful. Because of this, my dream career changed on a monthly basis. What’s funny is that I’m now 32 and still battle this conditioned response. I find that I have to remind myself regularly that I’m actually 32 and not 14; I won’t be a professional athlete when I grow up or a this or that… but I am grown up now. There’s been such a focus on what will happen someday instead of what actually is happening – the real now. Potential starts to shrink over time and its just a law of nature. It doesn’t mean I have to be unhappy about that – I’m actually really happy in my current job – but it does mean that I need to begin to look at things through a long-haul perspective.

Karsh also includes an awesome chart in his book that rings very very true to me and likely many other millenials:

Assets of employing a millennial – they’re goal-oriented, have positive attitudes, tech savvy, collaborative

Liabilities of employing a millenial – distaste for menial work, lack skills for dealing with difficult people, lack of experience, and confidence extends beyond ability

As a futurist, I have to wonder what will the next generation of workers be like? Are we still conditioning an “endless potential” mindset? Are we still sheltering our kids, over-emphasizing the cerebralness of learning, and over-stressing team-based learning? Or has the pendulum begun to swing the other way, towards the Gen X side of things where individualism is again being stressed?

This is a very interesting time to be alive and I’m genuinely excited to be a part of shaping tomorrow’s workers.

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