The “New” Greatest Generation

As a 22 year-old student I am constantly hearing about how my generation is a lazy one that doesn’t know the meaning of work.  We are overly self-absorbed, too into our phones to pay attention to the world around us and don’t know how to hold a decent relationship much less a conversation.

I want to counter these very common labels placed on the Millennial Generation, with another one: The New Greatest Generation. Don’t worry I’ll support my revolutionary claim.

I believe that the Millennial Generation is the first generation since The Greatest Generation to create a social movement – a movement so different than what has been experienced before that it is typically met with harsh criticism and cookie cutter labels that try to discredit its potential.

In an organizational behavior class, I was introduced to a Time Magazine article, “The Me Me Me Generation,” which discussion narcissistic personality in the Millennial Generation.  The article backed up claims of narcissistic personality, but also showed that it is not as bad as everyone typically thinks.  Millennials have a vision of where they want to take their life and career, which is why most envision climbing to the top quicker than what is actually possible.  But having a vision and not settling for a routine career that will lead to unending misery is something I would think is not such a bad thing.

The reason that millennials are so drastically different than any generation before is because of innovative technology leaps that make today’s genius creation obsolete in a few short months.  We are constantly connected to the world around us and beyond us and we are constantly working to improve those connections. We can communicate with people in different timezones and even stay in touch with college friends who disperse across the globe after graduation.  Of course this does bring with it the chance to miss out on the great opportunities we have always had: We can’t let the opportunity to connect with someone miles away, allow us to forget the potential in a conversation with someone right next to us.

Sometimes that connectedness allows us to get caught up in things like fame, status and celebrity fever, which can seem very superficial. But what I think its helps create is vision and acceptance.

When it comes to vision, millennials are often more astute to thinking beyond settling.  Personally, I dream of creating my own television show, or being a CEO of a well-established nonprofit.  I know I’ll have to work my way to those dreams, and I will be impatient about it.  I’m naturally impatient, but I think  that have those vision to keeps us wanting to move upward is a great thing.  Having that motivation and seeing that motivation in other millennials truly makes me think that this generation is one that will make a significant, positive impact on the world.

Because we are so connected with others, and others who are different than ourselves, I believe millennials have a greater appreciation for others – especially those different from themselves.  From my own experience, especially through college, my social circle has expanded to include people of different races, ethnicities and sexual orientations.  But it has included people of different personalities and interests.  I have seen more and more that there aren’t harsh cliques that are stereotypical of high school settings, but rather a mix of people of so many different backgrounds and personalities.  Tech-geeks are more likely to work more cohesively with the sports hero and the political driven student can more easily work with the metaphorical-loving bookworm.

This has allowed me, as a graduate student, to see the importance of diversity in education.  Typical lecture-style teaching is being replaced more and more by group-learning styles, where the teaching and learning is centered on the group where each individual brings a set of talents and skills that create a healthy mix for exciting collaboration.  I would stress out when “group work” was mentioned in class, but now it is something that I’m excited about.  I get to learn from others who currently work somewhere I am interested in, or have a position I would like to work to get to.  Then there’s simply people who are different than me that allow me to see things in such a new way, most often times a simpler way.

Millennials, myself included, like to be challenged and as many will point out like to be reinforced.  For me, nothing challenges me more than working with a diverse group of people and nothing teaches me more about myself than that very same thing.

So while millennials will be painted as lazy people, caught up in the superficial things in life, I believe we are a group willing to take risks when it comes to our futures not willing to settle for complacency, are more accepting of diversity and group dynamics and will keep innovation strong and competitive.  We are becoming today’s leaders – leaders who won’t shout from the top of a ladder, but instead will talk at ground level. With a strong vision, acceptance of others and a greater desire to do what is right and what fulfills their own purpose, millennials will, without a doubt, make this world a better place.  And that is what I think defines the New Greatest Generation.

These thoughts have been echoed by an amazing TED Talk by Scott Hess titled, “Millennials: Who They Are & Why We Hate Them.”

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