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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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.