Those born approximately 1982-2004 are often referred to as Millennials. They’ve been teased in countless online videos, articles and casual conversations. They’re often mocked for the way they see themselves, view the world, believe where happiness comes from, and for their position on the purpose of life.
The characteristic of their generation that is most talked about and seems to be the most obvious problem is their sense of entitlement. Sinek suggests that their social entitlement has led to their generation having the highest addiction, suicide and depression rates. Suffice it to say that many of them are generally not happy.
Simon Sinek, who calls himself an optimist and spends his days helping businesses create the kind of business environments that produce leaders and change the world for good, said that he kept getting asked what to do about the problems facing Millennials and the businesses employing them.
In a recent interview that went viral, Sinek changed the way the world sees Millennials by helping people understand where Millennials are coming from and what they’re trying to overcome. He says, “Through no fault of their own they have been dealt a bad hand.”
Do you agree with what he is saying? In just a few days his YouTube video received over 83,000 views. Obviously people are really worried about helping Millennials, and Millennials are concerned about helping themselves solve some of their problems too.
To be fair, I know many Millennials who don’t fit the mold and are even innovating and succeeding beyond expectations. So why are some Millennials genuinely joyful and living with purpose and others aren’t? And how do we make sure we don’t create a generation of Millennials again?
Simon Sinek has some great ideas in his video. He said Millennials are struggling to find happiness and purpose in life because of 4 things: parenting, technology, impatience and environment. Here’s a brief discussion of each of these problem-causing points.
- Parenting: Sinek says that many Millennials are victims of “failed parenting strategies.” As much as that possibly hurts parents of Millennials to hear, it is true. However, parents weren’t the only ones using the poor parenting strategies. There were also the teachers, counselors, neighbors and community members. Parents left harsh parenting practices of the past for modern progressive permissive parenting strategies promoted by people like Dr. Benjamin Spock. They sought for friendship when their children needed limits and learning to accept, “No” answers. Parents made everyone a winner, thereby devaluing any real accomplishment.
- Technology: Sinek says Millennials were given “unfettered access to cell phones and social media.” This media overindulgence came with a cost. The Millennials learned to depend on the dopamine high that comes from online acceptance and ended up falling into the depression that comes from not getting that dopamine fix. The Millennials perfected putting on a happy face to impress their online crowd while in reality living lives of sadness and depression. Sinek explains exactly how a media addiction looks by describing things many people would think of as usual use. Never before has our society engaged in a technology/addiction experiment like this. We’re raising children on a steady diet of quick fixes, virtual friends and virtual hardships.
- Impatience: Speaking of the instant gratification world we live in, Sinek said, “You can get everything you want instantly, except job satisfaction and strength of relationships. There ain’t no app for that. Those things come slowly…” Millennials don’t know how to wait. They give up quickly and have a hard time finding joy. Joy is something that comes after long, hard work and dedication to something meaningful. Impatience even affects how people function spiritually. Many Millennials don’t have time for God, religion or principles. Without heavenly hope it’s hard to find joy.
- Environment: It’s obvious to many employers that Millennials entering the workforce haven’t been prepared for the rigors of employment, even though they’re creative, innovative people who want to make the world a better place. Sinek says work environments can make some inspiring changes that may change the lives of millions of Millennials. Sinek says he believes “leaders [should] build other leaders.” He has empathy for the situation Millennials find themselves in and thinks that businesses can create limits and offer training that will create a better workforce. It has been proven that employees who feel empowered and are purpose-driven in their personal lives improve the corporate bottom line, as well as their own lives.
Conquering The Challenges
In the video previously referenced, Sinek gives a lot of practical advice for conquering technology addictions; using devices less; having more meaningful interactions with friends, loved ones and co-workers; and creating environments that encourage Millennials to take responsibility for themselves and find more purpose in life. We can only hope that enough Millennials and others of us who also fall into technology, impatience and environment traps will take his ideas to heart. The question is, what can be done to make sure future young adults don’t get dealt the same “bad hand” the Millennials were dealt?
The parenting must change. We must return to parenting strategies from our principled past that focus on good relationships and clear, unemotional and nondramatic communication, patience and connectedness. We must govern ourselves and our children so that they learn how to effectively govern themselves through adulthood.
Sinek gave solutions to today’s Millennials for how to solve the situations they find themselves in, but he didn’t give any solutions for the problem he said started it all: failed parenting strategies.
Effective parenting is when parents give boundaries, give their children “No” answers, teach work as a part of joyful living, and not indulge children with digital devices and social media when they aren’t ready to self-govern. In fact, it’s not just okay, it’s freedom for their future.
Teaching Self-Government is still possible.