Generational divisiveness seems more pronounced than before. Maybe it is the digital intensity available today. Everyone has a social channel, and they need to amp a position to gain notice. What gets lost is a sense of reasonableness. Within this sanity loss, responsibility fades into the war of the voices. The result is a tug of war in which everyone gets dirty, and no progress is made.
A Generational Tug of War
Many articles have been written about how Millennials are a generation of digitally distracted people who want it all as soon as possible. Other articles have been written about how older generations are not providing the right mentoring or good path forward to embrace and engage Millennials in the workplace. In the middle, some organizations and leaders are trying to adapt and prepare for the next generation of leaders.
Underlying it all is this tug of war. Who is to blame for certain characteristics? Who needs to be taken down a notch or two? Who needs to get out of the way? Back and forth with little advancement.
In a PwC study entitled “Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace,” they found:
“Millennials say they are comfortable working with older generations and value mentors in particular. But there are signs of tensions, with 38% saying that older senior management do not relate to younger workers, and 34% saying that their personal drive was intimidating to other generations. And almost half felt that their managers did not always understand the way they use technology at work.”
Within the tugs, we lose sight of what matters most. We lose sight of the future and the value of the past.
Generational: Opportunity Versus Legacy
In this media storm of pointing fingers, we lose two key principles – opportunity and legacy. The principle of opportunity is one in which we lift up ideas of how to enhance and solve. The principle of legacy is one in which we support the next generation while imparting lessons learned. The commonality between these two principles is betterment.
Betterment is the glue between generations. We need to find this glue again.
Principle of Opportunity
Most generational conflict seems to happen within this space of opportunity. Younger generations want the opportunity to use their talent, show what they are made of, and change things to go in a different direction. Older generations do not want to give up the opportunity to shape ideas and form paths in the way they desire.
We end up in an opportunity fight of sorts. One generation is fighting to gain opportunity while the other ones are fighting to keep the opportunities to themselves. No one really wins in these battles. What wins is stalemate. What occurs is a certain anger. After all, stagnation stirs resentment.
If it seems like the land of colorful opportunity has turned into a gray wasteland of sluggishness and bare innovation, this generational battle of opportunity may contain some responsibility. What gets lost in this muddy mix is that the opportunity can be larger for all generations if we would just work more closely together.
Principle of Legacy
What gets ignored is the principle of legacy. Older generations are too caught up in making a point with Millennials, although I am not sure what the point is. Spending the time to stereotype or hold back potential is a waste. What legacy will older generations leave by compartmentalizing or, worse, holding back young leaders?
For Millennials and younger generations, legacy is missed, too. Doing things because we can or because they are available does not create a productive path forward. Doing things to fit in does not always fit with living for a greater purpose. Unhealthy choices delay what is possible and contribute to a decline in what society can be. Society is made up of citizens. Sidetracking your legacy for a quick-hit, feel-good opportunity hurts you and all the citizens around you.
Legacy matters. We seem to be forgetting this, no matter our age. We may begin to realize it but only when we have a limited time left. Legacy is something to focus on early and often.
Principle of Betterment
Rather than placing generations in a battle between opportunity and a last grasp attempt at legacy, we need to shift to placing betterment in the middle. Our mindset shifts to betterment rather than who is doing what wrong or who may be a little different from ourselves. We begin to open up to engage diversity for strength of ideas and progress. We begin to meet in the middle and mix perspective and experience to solve problems and create solutions.
Betterment is what our generational focus must be.
Betterment grasps the potential of both opportunity and legacy. When we focus on what we can do better, we care less about age and more about what we should do. Betterment brings together the age of experience with the age of freshness. While betterment creates more opportunities, it also crafts a legacy to build upon. Betterment advances.
Next Steps of Opportunity and Legacy
When we make this shift of generational focus, we build more than we tear down. What we tear down are walls and create space to join together for a healthier future. How can we get started? We can:
Betterment is what our generational focus must be.Tweet
- Focus less on age and more on talent and perspective.
- Engage in civil conflict of ideas with the constant focus on how we can do better.
- Create opportunity for younger generations to step up to challenges, giving the opening to learn, fix, measure, improve, and continue a cycle of positive progression.
- Create an opportunity for older generations to provide advice and do the work along your side, recognizing the strength of experience and lessons learned.
- Always, always focus on your legacy. Legacy – individual and organization – is important, and both require our attention and positive work.
- Focus on betterment. Lead by answering: How can we take this opportunity to make the situation better than before? How can we create a legacy in which many will be proud and I will look back on and smile?
- Bring together opportunity and legacy and intertwine them to build a stronger resolution or innovative solution.
Doing the seven actions need no further explanation. Each are intuitive and simple to begin. We need to dust off our common sense and decency and think deeper.
When we weave together opportunity and legacy within and between our generations, we create a marketplace of ideas, civility, and progress. More than ever, we need a mindset of betterment. Our legacy depends on it.