I listened to a very interesting and profound speech the other day by Simon Sinek. He was discussing millennials and how they shouldn’t be blamed for their failings or perspective. Having read numerous articles on the fact and although I don’t necessarily consider myself one (despite being within the age bracket), it is often declared millennials are entitled, quick to blame, impatient, disinterested and unhappy.
While Sinek begins his retort by stating the parents are to blame, he follows this up with the ongoing threat of technology, social media and the environment. While I cannot admit to having experienced the childhood he talks of, he explains that many millennials grew up being told they were special, that they could achieve anything they wanted and that there is no such thing as last place. Naturally, growing up lavished with such advice and compliments, when they reach the real world, many struggle. They feel out of place, incapable, realise they can’t have everything and worry that they are not making the impact they expected to.
Sinek talks of a mountain. He says that millennials stand at the bottom wanting to reach the top, without actually wanting to climb it. The inspiring part of this speech, and something which I took from it, is that the mountain represents our life. It is the everyday, the struggles, the celebrations, the menial, the little things.
The impatience, developed from a generation so used to ‘instant gratification’ – either from dating apps, fast food apps or next day delivery – is that they’re not prepared to climb or to wait, or even to work hard. It’s almost unheard of for someone my age to stay at a company long enough to build a decent pension. Boredom (or motivation) compels us to move around. We want to travel but we want to buy a house. We dream of wanderlust, but we accept commitments. We have roots, but we want to fly. And, despite what we may have been told growing up, it’s almost impossible to have it all.
Perhaps this indecision – or greed – to have it all figured out is a result of social media too. Interestingly, Sinek drew on a scientific experiment which concluded a link between depression and social media. He focused on its addictiveness, how because of this we have lost our ability to communicate and to build strong relationships at work. Perhaps this is where we’re going wrong then. We are trying so hard to show a perfect life online, that we are forgetting about the time it takes to build one offline.
It certainly makes for an interesting watch, millennial or not, because the consequences and reflections do in fact, affect us all.