The Millennial Ethos

Photo by Krystle Mikaere on Unsplash

85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet” says a report from the Institute for the Future and over 20 business and tech leaders from around the world.  2030 is almost a decade from now. 12 years to be exact. Just a blip in comparison to the 13.8 billion years physicists estimate the age of this universe to be. Technology and  Moore’s Law is exponentially changing how we live our lives in this world. It’s digitizing our industries, our professions and our values. Yet, no one truly sees what exactly is happening around us. We look but don’t see, we listen but don’t hear. In the end the Millennial generation seemingly gets blamed in every conceivable manner. Millennials are deeply misunderstood and if I had a dollar for every time I’ve read blogs and articles or segments on the 24 hr news cycle blaming millennials for the collapse of large corporations and the killing of industries or proclaiming this generation is lazy, self-absorbed, materialistic and live in their parents basement, then I would have acquired a good amount of money by now. 

Millennials want more out of life.  They value new and meaningful experiences more than anything else. They want to travel the world, experience new cultures, meet new people and are genuinely intrigued by those who are different.  As digital natives, Millennials are more connected. They consume more information that any of the generations that have come before them. Millennials are highly driven. They want to feel inspired and follow their passions. They seek what makes them feel fulfilled. They seek an electric enthusiasm to their day to day lives. What else is the point of living if you dread 90 % of your time (which is work). Millennials care about making an impact and the social good. Most importantly they value self-expression. If all this is true, one can start to see why working 30 years at the same corporate job no longer appeals to this generation. Millennials are naturally more collaborative, entrepreneurial and creative. 

With the infrastructure of the world changing constantly most millennials feel it’s outdated and running on an operating system akin to Windows 95. It’s the remnants of  top down,  prescriptive and hierarchical programming that has benefited for far too long the chosen few and places the majority of the rest into rigid boxes. This old infrastructure through which our social fabric functions is not sustainable anymore. We’re overdue for an upgrade; just like a computer fixing its glitches and adding more features for greater usability. It’s that simple. When Oxfam says the ‘World’s richest 1% get 82% of the wealth’, it’s by design and I am not surprised. We’ve tried to output this process around the world, yet the paradox remains that if every single country lived lavishly as we did in America with all her innovations, inequities and complexities, our global environments would just implode. We need another way.

Robert Kiyosaki speaks of the 4 quadrants: Employee and Self-employed, Business Owner and Investor. Kiyosaki argues that 95 percent of the world lives in the first pair ‘Employee and Self-employed‘ and receive just 5 percent of the global wealth.  Most are living, consuming  and working for “the man” while hoping to increase their standards of living through a 40 hr work week that often brings them less choices, more stress and more struggles. The other pair ‘Business Owner and Investor‘ make up only 5 percent of the world’s population but receive 95 percent of the global wealth. Kiyosaki says these people are producers and creators and by that fact this often affords them more freedom and prosperity in their lives. We start to see that the DNA of our societies conspires always to integrate us within needed boxes, economic and professional cones rooted in the first pair.  Access to the other pair is hard. And to make matters worse, its gets increasingly hard to reach depending on the color of your skin, your gender and even the location you are born. To iterate this again, we need a new way and believe it or not I’m willing to bet on this Millennial generation to find that way. They just might hold the needed confidence and incredible creative power to pave the way for something new and break down those boundaries. Millennials have outgrown the clothes society has given them and now more than ever they are ready and hungry to move into the wealth creation mindset over the passive consumer one. 

I am often reminded of the TED Talk ‘Do Schools Kills Creativity?’, specifically the example Sir Ken Robinson gives of the 8 year old girl who could not sit down or focus in her classroom. She was always fidgety. She would often disturb the class and not turn in her homework. This little girl was eventually diagnosed with a learning disorder they claimed was ADHD. Her worried mother went to see a specialist. Halfway into their meeting, the specialist says to the little girl that he needs a moment outside with her mother. As he left the room the specialist turned on the radio to let the music flow loudly and told her mother outside to watch happens next. As soon as the music played the 8 year old girl got on her feet and moved to the beat of the song with her gifted rhythms. The specialist told the mother the reason her daughter could not sit still is because she’s a dancer. This same 8-year old girl who naturally spoke with her feet and movements is Gillian Lynn Sir Ken Robinson mentions. Gillian went on to influence the dance world in profound ways and became a multi-millionaire by following her gifts and passion. Similarly, many others across industries have become Pioneers by staying true to their obsessions and vocational callings.   

What if somebody had medicated her? Told her to be quiet? To stay calm and conform? To stay in her lane and her box? This is what the world has done. It has tamed all of us at great consequence. Millennials are not having any of it. Albert Einstein said it best, “If you judge a fish by its ability to fly, its going to think every day that it is stupid.”  I could not agree more. This is happening to so many people.  Corporations and industries are collapsing and morphing not because of Millennials but because their top-down approach no longer meet the needs of their employees in a fair and equitable way. They aren’t  adapting properly to how people have changed since the advance of technology and this new digital economy. 

How can one capture the Ethos of Millennials and help drive innovation in this changing world forward? It’s simple, follow what excites you the most and create unabashedly on your own terms. Take the risk, collaborate, experiment, fail forward and try again. The time is now to follow that fire which you can’t stop thinking about. That gut feeling that pulls your spirit up. For those who have not figured out yet, take more risks. Try many new things. Put yourself in uncomfortable work. Fully journey to discover what you like and what you don’t enjoy, do it fast, so that you can discover your gifts early on and can further develop them.  Mooji says “Step into the fires of self discovery, this fire will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not.” 

If you want to help define a better future and play a role in inventing these jobs that don’t exist yet, these new companies, industries, collaborative and digital processes, whomever you are, see and hear deeply this millennial generation’s calling, for they are well on their way.  

Originally Published on Millennial Complex

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Technological Tsunami of the Future

I remember hearing the story of a young boy from a developing country who had deemed Google as his father. He had grown up with a curious mind living in this 21st century and out of the many questions he would ask, his own father could not answer. Maybe it was about space exploration, quantum computing or most likely questions about the next gaming system, an exciting e-book or the history of a country  somewhere in this planet he had heard of at school, who knows… but Google could provide him with answers not even his own biological father could.

What about the story of an African-American men in New York City who was wrongly convicted of a crime and jailed for more than 20 years. After his release he walked on the streets of Time Square for the first time in a while, he quickly noticed that things had deeply changed but the most drastic of theses changes he felt came from the people walking all around him. “They all had headphones in their ears” he said while he continued to say “their faces always planted downward unto their phones“. This black man felt less human connections today then when he was free in the 90s.

How do we start to notice more of these changes and the impact it can have on us as an individual and on our society? Technology is changing the entire face of this planet especially our interactions as a human species. The next 15 to 40 yrs. many industries and how we will live our day-to-day life will drastically change and I believe our societies will almost be unrecognizable and our children’s children will live in a completely different world. I am not entirely sure if people know to full extent of this technological tsunami that is arriving at our shores or whether we are prepared for it.

I am not just talking about artificial intelligence and automation, I am talking about how we travel around and to different cities, space travel throughout the solar system, how social movements occur, how we eat food, how we read and watch movies, how we shop and buy goods and services, how we send messages and communicate with each other and our loved ones, how we teach our kids, how we perceive those who are different than us, how we do business in this world and most importantly how we see ourselves.

Just last week I heard someone saying that using a normal TV remote control with buttons is a thing of the past, more so from the stone age while I didn’t realize that voice control and recognition remotes are now readily being used by many cable and television companies today and is taking the industry by storm. I often don’t really watch television as much with the realization that time is only currency, though I wondered when ‘this’ in the remote became a thing, when this small technological change occurred without me even noticing. I think this is exactly what is happening to us as a human species. We are so enthralled by the mundane and noise of what the world asks us to do and believe in as a result we remain unaware of the cosmic technological changes that are set to happen or that has already been taking place.

We also have to notice that all this noise is distracting us from ever finding out what our true purpose is, why we are here on this planet and why do we wake up every single day and continue on and on. By noticing these technological changes on a much more subtle way and the impact they can have on us we can begin to take back power, agency and most importantly be a driver of innovation rather than being a consumer and passive player in this world. The old architecture that has defined most industries and global structures is collapsing and transforming into something different as we speak.

So take your surfboard, build your boat (your art, your dreams, your business) and do what ever it takes to understand this shift that is occurring in our world because it is not going anywhere. It is only the beginning.

Leadership through Mindfulness

At times I felt I carried the entire world of to do lists on my back. My world was a constant pull and tug.  I was always overwhelmed by everything I had to do. This was very much a result of all the personal goals and milestones I had set for myself. However, I also had work and responsibilities based on the many positions I had committed to. All the meetings I had to attend, all the people I had to contact, all the emails I had to send, all to move the businesses and organizations of my life forward. They all increasingly felt like heavy weights that clouded my vision and saturated my purpose. I crouched and felt immobilized by it.  Was I doing too much for a 25-year-old? This all prevented me from doing the very thing I was supposed to do: be a leader.

Leadership is a funny word that has been saturated by thousands of books and thousands of gurus telling their own stories and defining a word I believe should entirely be synonymous with humanity. Today it has lost its meaning in this vast ocean of knowledge, overconsumption of information, and living in automation. For me, leadership does represent just being human and expressing some our finest qualities as a species, like common sense, relating to others, understanding people, and to putting yourself in their shoes – especially those who express different opinions than you.

With leadership, I felt I needed to be open to the opportunities beyond what I could see now. For me, to do this I had to deeply listen to the people I worked with because they saw something I did not see; they were a piece of the puzzle to the changes I needed to implement. We needed to adapt together to move forward cohesively. All of this I could not do, as I cringed at my phone passing time on social media and, yes, ignoring emails. Mindfulness was an element that saved me because it seemed I was paralyzed and could no longer function as a human being.

Well, over the years, I have increasingly utilized mindfulness as a practice. Mindfulness is essential to my work with others and how I engage in everything I want to do in the pursuits of my passions and vocational aspirations. Mindfulness is defined as ‘the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment’. How does one become mindful of things? You must fill the space of your surrounding and what you are doing with a form of attention and noticing. It’s a process of taking your mind and its awareness through the full rivers of your willpower. It’s being aware of things around you or within you opposed to being totally submerged in automation. The example I always use is when you are driving a car and take a specific route everyday; there are times you completely enter processes of automation while daydreaming and thinking about something. Eventually, you realize you’ve arrived at your destination without your conscious control.

I think this is what a worried and stressed mind does to you more and more as you are flooded with a life of busyness. Most go through life never noticing what is truly around or within themselves. Try this as a challenge for yourself – try to become entirely aware of your breathing without ever taking control of it, focus on your breath as a passing observer. Most of the day, you are not aware of your breath but we breathe to be alive. If you can become aware of it outside the automation of breathing, you will see things start to change as you become more alive. Do this a couple times a day for five minutes and you can reach a different space that can clear your mind. It is a simple yet powerful exercise that I believe will allow you to be more human when you are bogged down by the anxiety and the busyness of life. There is so much more to mindfulness such as body-sensing, foods, smells, thoughts, etc. but I won’t go over it here. I will leave you with your curiosity to look them up if you feel this is something that resonates with your life.

Now and then, I do catch myself slipping back and intentionally getting ‘busy’. Tim Ferris says, “Being busy is a form of laziness and is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critical important but uncomfortable actions”. This is true, because I often feel the need to be busy for no reason as if this will create a sense I am accomplishing something. I have learned this need to be busy is not a good mechanism to cope with the stress and anxiety that I can experience of my long to do lists,  responsibilities, and other things occurring in my life.

Mindfulness is one of those things you can easily implement in your life, but at the same time it is easily neglected. You have to keep up with it, day-by-day, and drop by drop the bucket will be filled up. The more and more you practice it, the more and more you can gain control in your life.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Loa Tzu 

On Happiness

Chester Higgins, Jr./The New York Times

Two prolific Poets and Writers – Amiri Bakara and Maya Angelou dancing at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York in 1991.

 

What is Happiness? Is it finding fulfillment through a passionate career or a creative endeavor? Is it sharing laughers with good friends or holding your child for the first time in your hands? Or is happiness the awe we feel staring deep at a large sleepy sunset on a sandy beach or staring at the infinite ends of a night sky filled with vast clusters of distant suns and galaxies. Happiness might be all this but what exactly is it and how does one reach it in their lives?

For myself, the problem lies in posing that very question which presupposes that we can reach a state of perfectibility when we as humans are very imperfect. These imperfections I believe defines our existence today and are at the roots of understanding the complicated nature of happiness.

I’ve read too many positive psychology books and heard too many motivational Gurus who have created this false sense of knowing around happiness painted as reaching this sustained mental state and attitude at all times. Happiness as being in the ‘moment’ every day of the year or happiness as something that is far out in the future as this intangible creature dependent on that next job, vacation or promotion. At best, this false and dependent sense can render you lifeless, numb, empty and always wanting more, unfulfilled, or worst following a never ending rat race, always feeling the pressures of comparing oneself to others successes of these imagined moments of happiness or always measuring yourself up to how happy you’re ‘suppose’ to feel right now.

On my journey I’ve come to realize that it’s very important that we continually remind ourselves that we are imperfect species condemned to always reach for perfectibility in an imperfect world. The very art and soul of happiness is at the root of all this and you need to begin to reflect deeply this statement and how it connects to your own individual lives.

We are all filled with vices, polarities, extremities and rhythms, we are not static beings and the moment we see those things playing within ourselves and accept that we are bounded forever to these imperfections and in a rather meaningful way see those as part of the human experience and accept our inability to escape them; we set a foundation of truth. A very fertile and rich foundation of possibilities. With it, we begin to see others, the world and ourselves differently, much more real, one outside of the visceral grips of the ego. We begin to realize that our entire experience in striving for this Happiness is much more nuanced as you engage others and this world. It gives us alot of freedom actually. A bit of liberation to feel more, to fail more and get back up, to learn and express more in ways you never thought possible. This starts to deconstruct the ego and in the process makes room for the possibilities of experiencing peace as you appreciate life much more vibrantly and give gratitude to the things and people around you. Happiness is not the removal of our imperfections or our pains and sufferings, it is the incredible ability to be with these elements and emotions, all of it and it’s entirety.

Though, I have to admit there does exist many ingredients that can expand that foundation and ignite more freedom to experience more ‘happiness’ in ones life. For me, one of these ingredients is the notion of ‘Neuroplasticity’. The malleability and plasticity of the brain’s ability to shift and form new neural patterns and connections all throughout our lives from the day we our born to the very day we leave this world. As I said before we are not monolithic structures, we are always emerging into being and with a bit of focus, diligence and perseverance one can tap in to the power of this ’emergence’ and our interconnecting brain. We can adapt and learn a new language or a new musical instrument, tap into different modes of thinking and intelligences; we can form new healthy habits, and even unlearn old behaviors and patterns and we can do so much more.

The human species though endowed with it’s imperfectabilities, we are boundless beings, always emerging, and if we apply ourselves, much can change around us for the better, and if we unite through solidarity and work together, even on a large scale we can positively transform this small planet. We have seen this through powerful cultural movements as well as many political and social movements where a multitude of people and organizations have and continue to fight and push the societal envelope for more justice, more rights to disenfranchised and marginalized groups, thus making this world a little less imperfect and less static.

Living in A Hyphenated World

‘I am a citizen of the world!’ is a statement often espoused by many of this new millennial generation. These small growing streams of cosmopolitans continue to rise above the biases of their own cultures and traditions. They have adopted a Universalist lens rooted in an authentic understanding of their own complex cultural identities, how we relate as humans and interconnect with those who are different than us. Kwame Anthony Appiah, a philosopher and cultural theorist who has written on Cosmopolitanism defines it as ‘universality plus difference’ and says ‘the boundary of your state is not the boundary of your moral concern’.

Continue reading “Living in A Hyphenated World”