I recently watched a video that a buddy of mine shared with me. A link to the video I am referring to can be found HERE. I encourage you to watch the video, as it is what will by driving my thoughts below. The title of the video is “This Is Why You Don’t Succeed – Simon Sinek on The Millennial Generation.” I enjoy watching these kinds of videos because I love to trash on my own generation and point out how different I am from the “moochers” and the “cry-babies” that are just looking for someone to hold their hand through life. The problem is, as I watched the video, I saw way too much of myself in Sinek’s description of millennials. The video got me thinking that I have a lot of growing to do. If you are a millennial like me, then this blog post is for you. If you are not a millennial, you probably know one, so this topic might still be of benefit to you. This week, I want to discuss some elements of the video and what I am currently wrestling with as I try address the weaknesses of being a millennial.
Should you choose not to watch the video or for some reason it might become unavailable at a later time, I will give you a brief description of the content. Sinek begins the discussion by stating that he often encounters conversations with people saying that millennials are hard to work with. He goes on to say that millennials have been brought up with poor parenting and led by society to pursue unhealthy values/beliefs. He points out that there are millennials that have grown up receiving accolades and approval they did not deserve and experience a comfortable, safe environment where they have not learned to interact with the world successfully. He also goes on to say that many millennials have been told that if they do well in school and get degrees, they can find well-paying jobs doing meaningful work. The next point that Sinek makes is that millennials have become addicted to social media and technology (more specifically phone use), which keeps them from developing healthy relationships with others. As a result, millennials struggle to confide in others and often turn to their addictions to help them deal with the demands of life (which they are not prepared for). Sinek believes that it is not the fault of millennials that they are not equipped to socialize or find meaning in their work. Therefore, it is the responsibility of companies to make up this deficit by teaching these skills and helping millennials find satisfaction in their work.
I am going to start out by sharing what I disagree with- because I fear you won’t take anything I say seriously moving forward if I do not. First, I do not believe that all millennials fit the description just as he claimed them to be. I don’t recall getting acknowledgment or awards for things I didn’t deserve, nor did I learn to expect them. I also don’t believe that I am incapable of making deep, meaningful relationships. I am about to celebrate my 11 year anniversary with my wife next week. I am by no means an expert, but I must know something about building healthy relationships. On the other hand, I am known by my friends as the guy that never responds back when they call or text me. Second, I do not believe that it is a company’s responsibility to raise a misguided generation. Just because millennials have been fed some fallacies early on does not mean that companies must pick up the slack. Just because someone has been “dealt a bad hand,” as Sinek puts it, it does not mean that we don’t have a personal responsibility to grow. It is encouraging that companies might be discovering clever ways to aid millennials in growing, but we must not buy into the lie that someone else needs to build us up into healthier men. We are not kids, we are adults. Adults don’t wait for someone else to craft the world around their needs and desires; they adapt and equip themselves to meet the demands of the world.
That is what I did not agree with. Now, here is what I do agree with. I do agree with the idea that millennials have been raised under the belief that if we get a diploma, go to college, and seek out meaningful work that we will find good-paying jobs and fulfillment in the workplace. I am not an economist, but I would say that many millennials with college degrees under their belt would say this is not the case. In the same light, I also agree that the millennial generation has a hard time sticking with hard things. We are quick to assess our success and often find that we are not experiencing the results that we had hoped for. We do not understand that satisfaction and achievement take time. The third thing that I see among many millennials is an addiction to social media and technology. He hit the nail on the head with me when he described phone use. If I am honest with myself, I would say that I am very addicted to my phone.
So, why have I paused to reflect on this video and share my thoughts with you here? If you are a millennial like me, then we have some work to do. We cannot rely on companies, society, or loved ones to mold us into the men that we are called to be. We need to get comfortable with the idea that we have some personal growth to do. We need to learn how to break our addiction to social media and technology. We need to learn how to develop further toward healthy social skills. We need to find things in life that are worth putting our efforts into long-term and then stick with it. We need to realize that we are responsible for adapting to the demands of society and not expecting the world to give us a pass since we are a generation of “misguided kids,” as Sinek alluded to. I understand that this is a tough order to fill, but we have to take charge of our own lives. Our family, friends, workplace, and society are counting on us to embrace the growing pains. We cannot run from discipline and personal development. We must instead welcome them with open arms.
If we do not make changes then this is what I fear- we will have a whole generation of men that will continue to live with shame, fruitlessness, and a lack of perseverance. If we do not change, I believe that we will not see an end to fathers abandoning their families when things become tough. I believe that we will continue to see employees bouncing from job to job looking for the “perfect fit,” possibly never experiencing value in their work. I see men struggling to see past their own desires or needs to care for others around them. And, I question whether we will even know who is responsible for our inability to grow when the dust settles.
I can only imagine that what I am sharing is controversial. There are some that would say that my opinions are do not accurately reflect their personal experience. Whether you disagree with what I shared or not, I encourage you to discuss the topic further in the comments. This is a topic that deserves the attention of everyone, whether you are a millennial or not. Please feel free to respectfully share your own journey in wrestling through this topic.
And, as always, stay Rock Solid, dads!
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.