I love the Millennials. They get it. They are everything that my generation isn’t – socially aware, kind, environmentally conscious and ready for change.
My generation left school wanting to make a living. Your generation wants to make a difference.
I also love the way Millennials accept change – instinctively. Not only have you grown up knowing that change is inevitable, you look around you, see what needs to be changed – and get on with it.
So it really gets me mad when I hear Millennials mis-branded with that pathetic label, “snowflake”. There is a great meme that has been doing the rounds on Twitter recently. The first frame is a report that Alesha Dixon’s Black Lives Matter necklace sparked 1675 complaints from viewers of Britain’s Got Talent. How pathetic. The second is the fact that Ofcom received 200 complaints about Matt Lucas’ opening Boris sketch on Bake-Off. The third frame is David Mitchell’s German army officer character from Peep Show, asking the question of older generations: “Are we the snowflakes?!”
Your generation aren’t snowflakes, you are catalysts for change – and you may just save the world. Actually, you will have to – the last couple of generations seem to have stuffed it up big time.
The ‘Millennials as Snowflakes’ argument that so many older people have delighted in making these last few years is both spurious and lazy.
Your generation is painted by so many social commentators as ‘entitled’ and ‘lazy’ with zero resilience. You are portrayed as a generation that has been ‘dealt a bad hand’ and needs help.
What a load of nonsense. You are too often painted as victims when the truth is the exact opposite.
Your generation has come to the world of work with the full knowledge that employee loyalty and employer loyalty are myths. My generation has been in denial about this for decades. You know that employment is a transaction: you do the work in exchange for cash and the opportunity to develop new skills. But you know your current employer won’t last forever; the job for life days are long gone. The career for life is long gone too. You will have multiple employers and several careers. You will switch from full time to part time and back again. You will take career breaks. You are in the driver’s seat. It’s your life.
Unlike my generation, you came to adulthood with a burning desire for work:life balance from the start. Some of my age group despair at this, and yet they know full well that it is the right approach – as we have been striving, and failing, to achieve it for far too long.
Values are important to you. They weren’t to us. We started work in the ‘Greed is Good’ eighties and values were just meaningless words that HR departments printed on coffee cups. But you are wonderfully different. If the company you are working for isn’t making a difference to society, you will move on. If the leaders aren’t genuinely living up to the company’s values, you will move on. If your boss is a jerk, you will move on. Life’s too short and they don’t deserve you. My generation wish they had half your self-confidence and sense of self-worth.
The generations that have gone before you have performed miracles – while causing disasters. They created antibiotics and vaccinations. 120 years ago, the average life expectancy of a newborn was not much more than 40. Today, 1 in every 2 babies can expect to live to 100. They created motor cars, airplanes, silicon chips, computers, plastic, the mobile phone, 3-D printing and the internet. They also invented nuclear weapons. They put a man on the moon. They brought in laws against slavery, racism, female emancipation and discrimination in all its forms (but as we all know, laws are just the beginning of the battle). They shattered the glass ceiling for women. They raised billions out of abject poverty wile creating thousands of billionaires and widening the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ to an unconscionable level. And in the process, they have wreaked ecological disaster on this planet of ours and caused a catastrophic climate crisis.
You have inherited a world that your great-grandparents could hardly have imagined; a world of abundance, of unprecedented power at your fingertips, of global interconnectivity, of science that looks more like magic every day, of bewildering choices, of almost limitless potential – and one very sick planet.
Thankfully, the planet matters to you. You know that man-made climate change is real and has reached crisis levels. You know that more than 10 million tonnes of plastic make its way into our oceans every year. You know that unfettered human activity is destroying the natural world, rendering millions of species extinct and enabling killer viruses to roam the planet.
Those in charge need to hand the reins of power over to you. The future of our world depends upon it. But the progress towards this inevitable hand-over date is simply too slow. Look at the current choice for US President – a 74-year-old narcissistic climate change denier and a 77-year-old who has been in and around the corridors of power for decades. What sort of a choice is that?!
But while you wait for your turn at the top, the world needs you to help them to change. No-one changes because they want to; we only change if want to, so the role of a leader is to help people to want to change. And genuine leadership doesn’t always come from the top. Your generation are the leaders we need. We need you to help the current mob to want to change.
You need to help them to find the power to change.
Campbell Macpherson is an international business adviser and the author of The Power to Change: How to Harness Change to Make it Work for You, published by Kogan Page, priced £14.99 on Amazon.