Be More Like the Millennials We Make Fun Of
For the thousands of years that written records go back, there’s been evidence that every older generation thinks the new generation coming up is inferior.
There is a very long list of cognitive biases that contribute to this conclusion.
In some ways the inferiority is true, and in some ways the opposite it true.
And, like many things in life, the lessons we draw from our conclusions come down to what perspective we choose to take.
As an older person, I know it’s easy for me to see mistakes that young people make – mostly because I made them too.
And we can choose to look at the young people who don’t apply themselves, or at the the ones who thrive, sometimes much better than the rest of us do.
Participation trophies or not, look what Millennials are dealing with these days.
Those of us with a little grey hair grew up at a time when if you graduated from high school you could take your pick of good blue collar jobs. Perhaps even a job where a man could provide for his family while his wife was at home for a few years looking after the family.
If you graduated from university you could take your pick of good white collar jobs that paid a bit more.
And either way, if you were responsible and did a conscientious job, you could keep working at the same company or at least in the same industry for forty or fifty years.
For the most part, those things just aren’t true for Millennials.
Even when they land a solid job, their whole company can be gone next year in a merger, or they can get downsized, or their job moves offshore. If it’s a “start-up” it could all be over in months.
Today over 300,000 waiters and waitresses have degrees. There are more than 5,000 janitors with a PhD.
And our lexicon has a new word; ‘underemployment,’ to describe the situation of working at a fraction of your available capacity.
And the ones who attended college – graduating or not – often carry five or six figures of student debt. In their twenties!
None of that was true for we baby boomers.
So They Adapt
And here’s the thing about many of the Millennials I observe:
- they embrace the fast-changing elements of this New Economy, instead of being intimidated by them
- they don’t follow established traditions and expectations, they improvise
- they move to different cities, different states, and frequently – to another country if there’s an opportunity
- they multitask, doing part time work, gig jobs, and online freelancing
- best of all: they don’t ask for permission or wait for approval from ’society’ – they just jump in a do it!
Those are all very powerful life skills for the 21st century. Perhaps even essential skills for these times.
So compare their future prospects to a baby boomer who needs:
- the astute insight and trustworthy ethics of the US Congress to protect his Social Security for decades
- the fair-minded decency of his employer to forgo additional profits by keeping expensive workers like him while turning away younger or foreign labor who would accept less pay and fewer benefits
- his over-leveraged and undercapitalized bank to stay solvent during the next 2008-style meltdown – without taking his small nest egg in a “bail-in”
- and perhaps a local company like Walmart to provide him with a job as a greeter or some other McJob well into his eighties to supplement his retirement income
Talk about leaving your future to chance!
If I needed all those breaks to go my way, I’d be awake at night with worry.
Boomer’s Secret Weapon
But here’s the ace up the sleeve of virtually every baby boomer.
Boomers have all of the same social and technological advantages of this New Economy that Millennials have, plus something none of them have – decades of knowledge and experience!
Millennials are already thriving online in droves. Yet, in terms of life knowledge and experience, they have a major handicap compared to boomers.
So they can’t even compete in your particular niche.
Just pick the right online business for your situation.
You already act your age. Start getting paid your age.