Guest Post by Scott Savage
Can I make a confession? As a Millennial, I tire when reading articles in my news feed that slam my generation. We are lazy and feel entitled. We are narcissistic. We are addicted to our phones and checking social media. We cannot commit to anything. In the words of Louis CK, Millennials are “the crappiest generation ever.”
Many of the these critiques are broad, sweeping and inaccurate generalizations. But, honestly, our generation struggles in some of these areas. Sometimes the critiques we receive are warranted.
I wonder, what if we were conditioned to feel entitled? Every time we competed, we earned a trophy. We grew up in a world where seemingly everyone had cable TV, internet access and a cell phone. By the time we got to college we had five graduations and their subsequent parties! Think about it—preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade, and high school. There is a reason we think we’re awesome!
While our sense of entitlement has been developed over time, it has quickly become a major barrier to our future. Entitlement is not only a barrier for Millennials; it can limit anyone’s development. Entitlement produces a demanding nature in our interactions. Entitlement makes it more difficult to endure life’s challenging seasons. When we feel entitled, we easily default to passivity and laziness, expecting things to come our way without hard work and perseverance.
Entitlement confuses us. We focus on the outcome we experience and ignore the process that produced it. We love using our iPhones but forget the long, failure-ridden road Steve Jobs took before he created it. When we become entitled, we fail to pursue paths which expose us to struggle or failure. [tweet to share]
My sense of entitlement nearly cost me my future. In my first job after college, entitlement produced a lack of teachability in me. I had a very awkward and uncomfortable conversation with a supervisor who named these weaknesses.
Entitlement prevented me from appreciating the advantages I enjoyed. I failed to notice that the source of my complaints were the subject of others’ dreams and prayers.
My sense of entitlement nearly cost me my future.
While in that season, though, I discovered gratitude as an antidote to the negative aspects of entitlement. In writing on the power of gratitude and the danger of entitlement, Steven Furtick noted, “Your sense of gratitude ends where entitlement begins…You cannot be grateful for something you feel entitled to.”
Gratitude reminds our hearts that everything we have is a gift. [tweet to share] When we begin to look at what we have—possessions, relationships, opportunities, and experiences—as a gift from God or the gift that came after a hard season of work and waiting, their status as gifts shifts our experience of them.
If gratitude is so important, how do we cultivate it in our lives?
1. Exercise your “gratitude muscle.”
In his book Today We Are Rich, Tim Sanders shares how his grandmother, Billye, taught him to think of gratitude as a muscle and not a feeling. Sanders teaches that a daily discipline of giving thanks builds a strong muscle, just like a daily trip to the weight room.
2. Understand that gratitude does not change your experience, but rather gratitude changes your perception of your experience.
The difference between gratitude and entitlement is not found in what happens to us, but rather our response to and perception of what happens. When we exercise our gratitude muscle, we accept the information and assessments that fit the gratitude grid instead of the entitlement grid. We can try to force change in our circumstances or we can work to shift our perspective.
3. Stick with gratitude long enough for it to build generosity and contentment.
Instead of being patient and letting gratitude do its slow work in us, most of us treat gratitude like a can of Red Bull. We look for quick fixes rather than being patient and consistent. While gratitude is not a quick fix, its lasting power far exceeds any “buzz” we might get from other paths.
I think entitlement is a dangerous disease. [tweet to share] We have seen diseases rob friends and family of their futures. If entitlement has the potential to steal our future in that kind of scenario, our relationship with gratitude could be a life-saving proposition. Let’s do all we can to cultivate grateful hearts.
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Entitlement is Stealing Our Future
This interests me because I work with a TON of Millennials in our Millennial Think Tank, and entitlement is not a word I use to describe any of their attitudes. I DO see some of the ‘we are special’ attitude emanating from many of them, but I think that’s a condition many of them come from.
I often wonder if GenY’s history education was somewhat lacking. I hear things that indicate that many of them don’t necessarily understand world history enough to know that there have been other, horrible, scary times; that change HAS come this fast – think of the industrial revolution, the space race etc.
I’m going to share this with my group for feedback, because you certainly made me think.
Amy – Thanks for your comment. Generalizations are risky and rarely match all of our experiences. I’ve met some hungry millenials who are hustling after their dreams and not waiting for them to magically appear. I’ve met other millenials who are befuddled by how difficult and non-guaranteed achievement and success are for them. These friends battle disillusionment, cynicism and discouragement. I’ve been in both places myself.
Your thoughts on historical context are really interesting! I think you’re on to something. When I hear stories about how my grandpa earned his Silver Star in WWII or how my grandmother overcame her racist family history, I’m reminded that every generation has entered adulthood into a scary new world that is changing before their eyes.
Thanks for reading AND for sharing this piece with others. If this gets people talking and thinking, then I consider it a win!
Great article! I am totally on board…as a Gen Xer, I have a lot of respect for the Millennial generation. A good friend (24 years old) told me that her parents have been telling her she is so amazing, incredible (insert superlative here)…so in tears she was asking me why she was not able to get a job in her field. We had a very frank discussion, and what it comes down to is exactly what you talked about in your post.
Bottom line, our Baby Boomer and Gen X parents have created this generation. I for one value the integrity and honesty that many members of Gen Y are contributing to our world.
Here’s to peaceful co-existence between the generations!
Hi Tonya. I’m so glad you were able to have that conversation with your friend. Honest feedback from someone who is committed to you is a generous gift. When we come together across generation lines, the collaboration unleashes incredible creativity and energy. Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you enjoyed the article.