One thing is clear: millennials – those born after 1980 – are the world’s future, and they’ve already made significant contributions.
Social media alone wouldn’t be what it is today without millennial entrepreneurs, for example.
“It’s not just technology defining the youngest working-age population, it’s also a distinct optimism and a desire to do work that matters,” says youth psychologist Dr. Jason Richardson.
“I don’t think millennials lack the work ethic and soft skills that others say they do. Many of those things come with age regardless of when you were born. But I do think millennials have been coddled. Many have an aversion to seek resolutions to problems within themselves – outside of technology.”
Richardson, author of “It’s All BS! We’re All Wrong, And You’re All Right!” (www.drjasonrichardson.com), offers millennials suggestions for expanding their skillset.
• Try more authentic “connections.” Competition among millennials can be fierce, especially when it comes to how your social media profile looks. You can have a thousand friends, “Like” the cool, trendy items and have an impressive bio with the right degree from the right school. More one-on-one time with your peers, however, helps with truly interpersonal settings, including working with people from older generations.
• Distinguish yourself by offering your full attention – a rare commodity nowadays. People never have to be bored anymore. If we must wait for anything, we can find distraction in our smartphones, which are on-demand boredom-killers. On the job, dividing your attention while on your phone with clients, management, during conference calls, etc. will not be appreciated. It’s not multitasking when your attention is compromised – a major hindrance in communication.
• Take a cue from older generations; grow thicker skin. Today, colleges are catering to students with “safe spaces” in case their feelings are hurt. Professors often warn students of “trigger warnings” in case academic content could be seen as offensive. Older generations were not as coddled, which helps them accept criticism at work. Thin skin can keep you from finding solutions to problems. Learn to accept professional criticism graciously so you may think more clearly on possible solutions.
• Base progress on doing good and less on feeling good. Doing good and feeling good don’t always coincide. Remember, you’re the baby who learned to walk despite many failed attempts. You didn’t need to feel good to be successful. Place value in the work and personal gains made as you move forward. Think of yourself as continually developing or becoming. You are more than what’s written on your social media profile.
“We can’t always control the conditions of this amazing world,” Richardson says, “but you can take control of the amazing you, if you believe you can.”