Remember 20-something? Much begins at 20-something and many have big dreams of how their career will unfold, how they will rise in their leadership responsibilities, and how their organization will be unique in supporting their team members and community. Remember those times?
For some, like me, it was many years ago. For others, it is now. Wanting more is a good thing. Wanting is what pushes us to develop more, achieve more, and create more.
What happens when we want more is others may view us as being excessively eager and unwilling to pay our dues. Each may be valid but some take it to the extreme. The over-analysis of Millennials is occurring too often, much of it out of context. Millennials have been declared the “Me Me Me” generation, the impatient generation, the over-connected generation, and much more.
Many Millennials are ignoring the noise from older generations. Focus is vital, and I see the fire of focus in many Millennial leaders. While wanting more is a positive, there are dangers to avoid.
The past is littered with out-of-control stories of leaders getting caught up in the superficial elements of wanting more. (Just read an article about former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife to get a sense of this.) Idealism gets run over with a truck full of stuff. And, in the end, the truck full of stuff does not matter. What matters is wanting more of leading with a clear philosophy and values and making a difference in more lives than the day before.
The Dangers of Wanting More
There are many dangers in wanting more, but there are at least three primary ones centered on bad timing of decisions, loss of purpose to immediacy, and closed minds to learning more. Each carry a burden to avoid. Let’s explore each.
Danger 1: Letting Impatience Lead to Bad Decisions
Wanting more does carry a big risk of being impatient. We begin to hear the voices of anxious change.
- My job is not meaningful enough.
- My salary is not quite right.
- We could live in a better neighborhood.
- I really like this new car model.
There may be a time to make each of these moves and decisions but knowing when is only part of the formula. Understanding why you want to make each of these changes is essential. Is it because you are momentarily bored, or is it because you have become sidetracked from your true purpose? Does the grass look greener on the other side or is there a real opportunity to make your current patch of grass greener?
Tapping into your impatience will help you discern what to do next. Taking the time to understand your restlessness will help build a better path forward either where you are or where you want to go next.
Just don’t let impatience alone drive your choices and decisions. Get to the root cause and then determine if you can address the cause where you are. If not, you may need to tap into your meaningful goal of wanting more and move forward with calculated haste. Find the right tempo.
Danger 2: Losing Focus on Purpose and Community
Early on, we have big dreams of the big impact we can have. When I was 20-something, I thought I could change the world. I thought I could run for a political office with bold ideas of change and then see those changes happen. But I got sidetracked. Life overtook me instead of me staying on top of the life I wanted to lead.
If distractions were present twenty-plus years ago, you can imagine what the distractions look like today! Each generation seems to have a broader, more intense set of distractions than the one before. The challenges get greater to stay focused on what your mission is.
What I wish I had done early on was to write down what I wanted to achieve twenty years from that day. I wish I would have identified what I need to learn and what I milestones I needed to achieve. I wish I would have gotten more involved in my community and gotten my hands dirtier in the work of improving the area where I worked and lived.
I am not wishing my life away. I am just saying if you want more purpose in the work you do and the life you lead, then you need to have more discipline to make it happen. My wish now is for you to stay committed to your purpose, get involved in your community, and stay disciplined in your wanting more meaning out of work and life.
Danger 3: Knowing it All
Wanting more does mean knowing more. However, we should never be a know-it-all. (tweet to share)
Too often we want to go it alone because we think we know it all or know enough. Even at 80, you will not know enough! When you think you know enough is the day you die. Your mind will freeze in time and your soul will narrow. Wanting more requires more knowledge, more sparks.
Wanting more requires asking more questions. Just ask Bob Tiede, a leader who is “passionate about helping leaders shift… from the pressure of having to have all the right answers to simply having a few of the right questions.” Herein is a critical key to using our impatience to learn more: Ask more questions!
No matter how far you get or where you are in your career at this moment, you do not have all the answers. Never think you do. If you ever think you know-it-all, then that is the day you will lose your leadership way. You will become “one of those” leaders, the one people avoid.
In your journey, wanting something better and with greater purpose means you need to keep learning and keep asking questions. Know what you don’t know. Be humble in learning. Keep engaging others in challenging and meaningful conversations.
Wanting more is a good trait of Millennials and any generation. We should want more in purpose, and this is a challenge for Millennials in every organization. Every generation has their mistakes but we can only get better if we continue to share experiences and learn from each other. For me, this is what activating leadership is all about. We cannot afford passive leadership, especially with the challenges we have ahead and the problems we need to solve.
We cannot afford passive leadership, especially with the challenges we have ahead and the problems we need to solve.Tweet
Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders was written with this in mind, tapping into the ancient wisdom of aspens and applying the lessons to today’s leaders. Aspens have thrived through time, and there is much to be learned through this force of nature. They use patience intelligently.
Thank you for wanting more in purpose and meaning in your life and work. Thank you for helping me keep refreshed through your stories, your experiences, and your leadership. Let’s keep wanting more in purpose and meaning.
How do you keep your wanting more centered and moving forward in purpose?
Join the Conversation
Millennials: Wanting More from Leadership and Business
Terrific post, Jon and I am looking forward to reading your book. It just arrived yesterday!
I often have Millennials attend my training programs and they are an extraordinary group. They often share how they wish they could make a greater impact on their team choices. We then get into a discussion on ways to influence others and ways to learn from others. Their high energy levels sometimes get the better of them. I try to encourage them to offer up their wonderful suggestions and listen carefully to the helpful feedback. It’s a seesaw of give and take that will become more balanced with experience.
Thanks Jon for your great insights into this fascinating generation!
Thank you for your insights and seesaw is a great visualization to understand a give-and-take mindset. We need to give but also remember to take-in advice and counsel. We need to ask questions and listen carefully to the different perspectives. From here, we need to determine what to do differently and how to have a bigger impact. This is the challenge for Millennials, as it has been for past generations.
Looking forward to your feedback on Activate Leadership. I hope you enjoy the book!
Thank you!! Jon
I’m working with a millennial now who may have “grass is greener” syndrome and I want more now. Thing is, I have no way of knowing. I ask him questions so he can figure out his why. Impatience is definitely the context for that conversation. I want more money, I want the fast track I don’t want to wait where I am… even though it has everything I want… just not now.
It’s also interesting to read this piece from you in the context of the interviews I’ve been doing for my university. The applicants are all remarkable and all want to make a significant contribution to the world. I hope that many of them find their way to your book, Activate Leadership, to hold onto that desire with focus and intention as they continue to move forward in their lives.
Getting the patience/impatience mix right is so critical, especially in our twenties. We need to know when to ask questions and do the work and when to move on to the next opportunity. This is a tough element to work through and one I may have missed when I was 20-something. Taking a step back and tapping into our mind and heart to know what is really going on is a good place to begin.
Keep asking questions. Keep engaging in the conversations. These activities will continue to help and you never know when an “aha” moment will happen. Thanks for all your great work, Alli!