As our world becomes more connected and a new generation of the workforce seem to be glued to social media it fascinates me that many are labelling ‘Millennials’ as ‘The entitled generation’ as if their actions and attitudes are something completely new.
We love labels and as much as they have a place I often feel they cloud some issues, confuse topics, trivialise and narrow our focus.
We evolve as a species and as a society. I grew up in a very different world to the one we live in today. The world my mother grew up in, war-time Britain was different again.
As Britain entered the sixties I’m sure my grandparents looked around them and wondered what on earth their children and the young workforce thought they were up to. Historically many new generations have enjoyed a degree of entitlement over their forebears.
My childhood involved learning at school how to build a makeshift shelter to protect us from nuclear fallout when the four-minute warning went off. Our electricity was rationed to certain periods of the day and unemployment was rising through the roof ending in riots on the streets of Britain.
Ingrained into me were certain core principles,
The World Doesn’t Owe You A Job!
Just Because You Have A Job Doesn’t Mean You Deserve To Keep It!
And perhaps the one that has seen me grow personally so much over the years,
I Don’t Care What You Do As A Career As Long As You Are Happy!
Those three key pieces of wisdom were given to me by my father. I spent little time with him and he was dead a week after my seventeenth birthday but his legacy lives on in all that I do; I named my company after him.
When I left school without finishing my A Levels I entered a world without jobs. I went to work for less than I could get on Social Security Unemployment Benefit, many of my friends labelled me as stupid. I did whatever I was told to do by my employer, my first job as a trainee Estate Agent was to paint the office interior. It was work, a chance to have a career and better myself. I realised back then that it was easier to find a job when already working. I chose to work harder, longer and aimed to be better than those around me. Part of it was personal pride, part simple competitiveness and part a desire to improve my lot in the world. I was also very lucky to find a career that made me smile, that gave me immense pleasure and I still, thirty-one years on, get a massive kick from helping people improve their lives. Having a special home changes everyone’s enjoyment of life.
I’m pretty certain that if social media had exploded into the world in 1946 then my mother and her peers would be communicating similarly to ‘Millennials’. The difference may have been in the belief that some things should be kept private, that it is ok to think but not always to speak. Have you ever wished you’d slept before making a phone call, writing a letter, sending an email or posting on social media?
I always try to stay positive with the things I share on Twitter etc. I may go out and experience a bad meal, poor service, perceived lack of value to a product or experience. I do several things in those instances.
I ask myself, what was my frame of mind? Was that a contributing factor to my experience? Did I have an unrealistic expectation that I shouldn’t have expected to have fulfilled? Was the business I interacted with really at fault? I may choose to pipe up and say something, but only if I feel it is justified. Just because I didn’t enjoy something doesn’t mean it is terrible, it may just mean it’s not for me. I have, more than once, chosen to eat a meal that ultimately I didn’t like. The food wasn’t necessarily bad, I just chose the wrong dish for my taste buds.
We are all human! I can’t pretend to be perfect, as much as I wish I were. I have off moments, times when I should have been quicker on the uptake, smarter. There are days when something in my personal life does creep into work and I get distracted momentarily, I am not always as upbeat as I may wish to be.
I ask myself sometimes then, have I caught someone else on their bad day, that one moment when they had a slip? Of course we all expect to get the service we pay for, value for money, quality in accordance with the outlay we have made. This relates to all of us when we are at work in a different way.
If an employer buys your time by paying you, or me, a wage then we have a duty to perform at a level that justifies us taking that salary. An employer should also be able to expect a level of service back, a commitment, a duty of care because ultimately, everyone who takes a wage is in fact still their very own business. We are all self-employed in a strange kind of way, we are a commodity that we trade for a wage. If we, as individuals, expect a certain level of service and quality from the world around us then we are also beholden to give the same back.
What is the phrase? People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!
Social media is the ultimate glass house to live in.
It’s great to have standards personally, expectations but don’t ask people to achieve a level of consistency one hundred percent of the time unless you can achieve that yourself. Can you? Quite often in life people lash out in anger, but that anger is often an expression of frustration at ones own inadequacies, the moment when they themselves falter or slip and the self-criticism is projected outwards and away.
Every generation will thankfully have people who want to give more than they get, will have people who strive to improve in a positive way and every generation will have those who expect to get, to take. We all have the opportunity to choose which we will be.
I know what I choose and aim to be, I ally myself with those who are like-minded and I have to say I am incredibly happy with the world around me. I hope you are too!