Millennials have gotten a bad reputation over the years. Being labeled as narcissistic or called the “entitlement generation,” among other unflattering names, many declare they will be the downfall of American society as we know it. Granted, many examples of unfavorable behaviors have gone viral through the streams of social media, further building the case against this age group, buy I’d like to offer another view.
As a mother of three children that fall within the millennial age range, I’ve had many opportunities to observe behaviors of them and their peers. I have also had the distinct pleasure of earning my undergrad during my late 30s–early 40s alongside this wonderful generation. I admit I’ve seen examples of narcissism and entitlement over the years, but like any trait, you can’t cast a blanket stigma over an entire group. During my time with them, I’ve had the joy of seeing more favorable traits shine through.
First of all, these young men and women think about problems and events outside of themselves. They are indeed the most informed generation ever. Yes, they snap, tweet and share, but they also research, stay current on world events and connect to others around the globe. And they are a passionate group! I’ve enjoyed the satisfaction of working with several students at my daughter’s high school, and whether it’s a current event, a new business idea or the next cool invention, these kids get fired up. Really fired up. They are brimming with new ideas and possibilities and this fire is what they carry into their adult years.
The common thread through this group is change. Change is what they want to see and change is what they are going to bring into the world. Our world has gotten very small, technologically speaking. A millennial’s daily life and peer group is not limited to the borders of their town or city. And they believe they can affect positive change. It isn’t a question of how; instead, it’s a question of where do we start.
These young people devour information and they take pride in thinking for themselves. They thrive when given encouragement and blossom when given guidance and nurturing. All it takes is a little nudge to help them see hidden strengths within.
I’ve often said that people in general are very quick to point out what is wrong with a person, place or situation. We are quick to complain and say what needs to be corrected. How about taking the time to mention what is right with the young people in your life? Let them know when they’ve had a helpful insight you missed or offered a different point of view that shed new light. Let them know what they are doing right from time to time – the results may surprise you.